Ford wants to use drones to give your car surrogate sensors

The patent filing shows a drone landing on a car with malfunctioning sensors and then using its own to guide it to a repair facility.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt

Ford has applied for a patent that would have a drone attach itself to your vehicle and act as a surrogate sensor if one of your car's sensors failed.

Sounds crazy, right? Well, it is but then again, this is a patent, and that rarely means that an automaker will put the idea into practice. Typically it is used to exclude other manufacturers from using the idea. If Ford did run with this idea, though, how would it work?

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Ford's patent filing would have a drone land on your malfunctioning car and use its sensors to guide you to a repair facility.


According to Ford's patent filing, your vehicle would register a fault in one of its sensors and using a vehicle-to-vehicle network, it communicates with one of these drones, which then finds its way to your vehicle. Once there, it lands on and acts as a replacement sensor while it directs your vehicle to a nearby repair center where the issue could be fixed permanently.

In theory it is a cool idea but in practice, it seems like it would be a little tough to implement at scale. Drones already aren't terribly cheap and drones with the kind of sensor packages and computing power necessary to perform this kind of work would be more expensive still. Also, add in the FAA restrictions on drone flight in certain areas, and it gets even more complicated.

Personally, I'll only be sold if Ford amends its patent to include a loudspeaker for the drone that blasts Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" while on approach.