Gadgets for humans

Ford’s latest self-driving car patent sounds a little dangerous

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 11.30.19

Car manufacturer Ford announced earlier this year that it was ramping up its self-driving car testing. What it didn’t mention was that the company is at least looking into the idea of turning those vehicles into mobile movie theaters.

Yes, Ford has filed a patent for an “Autonomous Vehicle Entertainment System,” as spotted by Forbes.

The document shows a car that transforms into a movie theater while the car is driving itself, with a projector screen blocking the windshield and the front seats slid back so you can relax and enjoy the ride.


Should the driver need to actually drive at any point during the journey, the screen will disappear into the car’s roof and a secondary display will take over for passengers in the back.

While this is certainly novel, self-driving cars don’t yet signal that drivers can take their eyes off the road. Sure, they can relax a little, but as most other car manufacturers have pointed out, drivers still need to have their wits about them.

Of course, driverless cars have proven to be less prone to accidents in testing than humans, but would you really feel comfortable letting a screen block your windscreen while traveling on the open road?

If nothing else, driverless cars can’t account for other dangerous drivers on the road and having a movie blocking the main view and seats reclined will no doubt slow down the reaction time in an emergency when the driver needs to take over.

➤ Autonomous vehicle entertainment system [US Patent and Trademark Office via Forbes]

Published March 8, 2016 — 11:44 UTC