The next time you're stuck on the side of the road, you might get some help from a drone.
Ford is tinkering with an idea to help stranded drivers in a brand new way. We're diving into those future plans on the other side of the break. Stay with us.
Live from downtown Detroit, Local 4 News starts right now.
Drones aren't just used for taking nice pictures anymore. Ford may be looking at a new way to help their customers stuck on the side of the road. The automaker recently filed several patents for a jumpstart system using drones. To talk more about this move, we brought in John Rizvi this morning, who's an expert on patents. Hey, good morning, John.
Good morning. Nice to be here.
Welcome. Welcome. So we're talking about patents, and we're talking about this new technology. How do you feel about this move that Ford is making?
Well, you know, patents are for proposed technology. So there's no requirement that you actually have a working model. But the lawyer in me wonders about this patent —- there's the patent talks about a charging block being flown out via drone. And if you've ever lifted a battery, like it's not heavy.
Yeah, those are heavy.
So the liability aspect worries me. The last thing we need is a battery falling through the air in case there's some malfunction. There's also, of course, different ways that it can recharge the car. One is to have a series of drones, depending on how much charge is needed. And using the drones own battery source. So you might have a family of drones flying out. But you know this, this brings to light an important change in the patent law. At one time, you were required to file working models or prototypes that show an invention working. Now there's over 11 million patents today. So there's no longer a requirement. So there's no working model or test that actually shows this is going to work or how it's going to work.
So John, I gotta ask you, how many of these patents that are filed are just pie in the sky ideas to sort of beat the competition?
Well, a lot of them I mean, patents are about forming a monopoly. And it's kind of like, you know, whoever gets to the top first trying to kick the ladder out from under them to keep competitors from following suit. So that's, that's, that's a lot of patents that never make it on the market. But you try to form a patent portfolio. So you have multiple patents. And if you create enough of a web —- it's called a patent web —- then competitors try to avoid this area. So I think in this case, Ford may be trying to get like Monopoly on the automated drone charging field.
So, John, I gotta ask you one last question. When it comes to this patent web that you were talking about. Ford, other automakers may be eyeing another patent down the road? You're thinking it might not be as popular, though?
Yeah. So a couple of weeks ago, there's another published patent. It's for a self repossessing car. So it utilizes the computer in the vehicle. And if you miss your payments, your car just simply there's no longer a repo tow truck that gets sent out. In fact, the car just simply turns on, drives back to the repo lot.
I'm sure a lot of drivers are going to have opinions on that. John, thank you so much for joining us here talking about patent webs in the future of our automotive technology. Thanks for joining us this morning.