Ford Has Patented A Windshield Movie Screen For A Future With Driverless Cars

According to Back to the Future Part II, we were supposed to have hoverboards and flying cars by last year. The deadline has come and gone, and while we certainly got a real working hoverboard, flying cars still remain a challenge. The good news is that the next iconic milestone year that has flying cars in the sci-fi realm is 2019, from Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, so we've got three another three years to make it happen.

In the meantime, Ford is looking to a future that has driverless cars, which seems to be the next frontier in automobile technology instead of flying cars. And along with that comes a perfectly American innovative idea from Ford Motor Company: a windshield that turns into a movie screen so you can watch Mad Max: Fury Road while speeding down the highway at 75 miles per hour, or while sitting stuck in bumper to bumper traffic.

Get the details on the windshield movie screen after the jump.

In an article from Forbes, they highlight a patent that was recently filed for an "Autonomous Vehicle Entertainment System." And while that by itself is a pretty fascinating concept, the financial magazine points out that the real takeaway is that Ford anticipates a world with driverless cars that can still be controlled by drivers.

Here's one of the images that came with the patent for the entertainment system:


As you can see, it envisions an automobile where a screen drops down in front of the windshield and a projector that drops down from the ceiling of the car. However, the language of the patent notes that these are only possibilities, and this is not the definitive idea as to how a movie would be watched in a driverless car. Basically, this is just a patent on the technology that would allow passengers to watch movies in a driverless car.

Leave it to an American car company to figure out how to turn something that we aren't even mass manufacturing yet into an entertainment system. However, the availability of driverless cars may not be an issue soon as Ford CEO Mark Fields says, "Our priority is in making the first Ford autonomous vehicle accessible to the masses and truly enhancing customers' lives."

So why the rush to patent this"Autonomous Vehicle Entertainment System" then? It sounds like just an effort to stay ahead of the curve rather than a real future product for the time being. Ford spokesman Alan Hall says, "We submit patents on innovative ideas as a normal course of business. Patent applications are intended to protect new ideas but aren't necessarily an indication of new business or product plans."

The idea of autonomous cars is cool, and being able to watch movies while you're sitting in them is even better. But at the same time, some of the ideas seem problematic when you consider the fact that these driverless cars may require driver control at some point. If for some reason the car is heading towards danger and a driver has to take over, it would be quite difficult to get a dropdown screen out of our line of sight. But that's why this is nothing more than an early patent for something that is merely a possibility.

Anyway, we might be looking at a future where everyone can enjoy a movie while riding in a car as opposed to just the kids who don't know when to shut up.