Ford Motor Co & ADT Are Investing $100 Million in a New Joint Venture to Deliver ‘Breakthrough Technology' for Vehicle Security That Uses AI
With new technology offered on modern vehicles, such as digital keys, facial recognition technology and GPS tracking, car theft will soon be a thing of the past. With higher levels of security such as near field communications technology (NFC), physical security tokens including keyless entry fobs and companion apps for vehicle owners, a would-be car thief can no longer hotwire a vehicle and simply drive away like in the old days.
Although its difficult or impossible to start a modern vehicle without a key or smartphone, smash and grab vehicle break-ins are on the rise. The FBI estimates that stolen work equipment cost businesses more than $7.4 billion in 2020 in the U.S., and theft of valuable equipment from commercial vehicles is believed to be underestimated in stolen vehicle reports.
There is also the greater opportunity costs that business owners face with the deferral or loss of jobs while replacing stolen items. To address these future vehicle security needs, especially for its commercial customers, Ford Motor Co is teaming up with security specialist ADT.
The two companies are investing up to $100 million over the next three years in a joint venture that will enhance vehicle security, Ford announced on Tuesday. The new joint venture company is named "Canopy".
Ford says the joint venture will deliver "breakthrough technology" to enhance vehicle security. The vehicle security technology will include ADT's professional remote security monitoring with Ford's AI-powered camera technology on the vehicle.
"The combination of our technologies and our deep security experience creates a new category of protection for work and personal vehicles," said Elliot Cohen, ADT chief business development officer. "Vehicles represent the second-most-valuable asset for consumers, and helping to protect them extends ADT's safe, smart, and sustainable solutions far beyond the home."
Canopy's first smart vehicle security system accessory offering will make use of acoustic sensors for vans, onboard cameras, radar, LTE, and GPS. The security hardware will be easily installable by customers to help protect their expensive work and recreational equipment, Ford says.
Canopy will be sold through vehicle dealerships, major retailers, and online.
How Canopy Works
The initial launch of Canopy will have a camera that can be mounted in either a van's cargo area or on a pickup facing the bed. The platform will use computer vision technology powered by AI to identify and report credible threats while reducing false alarm signals, such as the vehicle owner rummaging through the contents of a pickup truck bed.
Ford customers will be connected to the system via the Canopy app to livestream video from the vehicle, get notified of suspicious activity, or review past events.
The system's AI capabilities are designed to filter out true threats from benign ones, such as an animal like a cat jumping into a pickup bed or construction sounds near a vehicle that could potentially trigger a false alert. However the system will alert ADT monitoring professionals if it detects a person loitering around the vehicle or if it's broken into.
If there are any indicators of suspicious or criminal activity, the system will trigger a smartphone alert for noises such as breaking glass, metal cutting, or suspicious motion or sound near the vehicle when its parked.
Customers can also warn potential thieves they are being watched by speaking through the smartphone app, enabled by a two-way audio feature that Ford says will be available by next year.
If a credible threat is detected, ADT monitoring agents will be able to contact customers, fleet managers, or police to take additional measures to help prevent crime from happening. These events will also trigger additional responses, including audible alerts and programmable voice recordings and two-way audio in future updates.
"Thieves have been even more active during the pandemic and know business owners store valuable equipment in vehicles, often hauling more than $50,000 of gear. Canopy is here for those who've had enough of thefts that threaten their livelihoods," said Franck Louis-Victor, vice president, Ford New Business Platform. "Key to Ford's software-led transformation are new ideas such as Canopy and collaborating with other innovators such as ADT, which brings to vehicle security their leadership protecting families, homes, and businesses."
Ford Pro will be an important launch partner to deliver these technology solutions to the automaker's commercial customers to protect their businesses and assets.
"Canopy will help Ford Pro deliver another service to fleets helping to improve total cost of ownership by staying productive and avoiding downtime associated with stolen tools and damaged vehicles – including the majority with mixed fleets since Canopy technology will be available across brands," said Ted Cannis, CEO, Ford Pro.
The Canopy team has been developing and testing the technology for the past two years as part of Ford's New Business Platform innovation incubation group. The team will now be headquartered in Detroit and London and led by Interim CEO Christian Moran.
Canopy also plans to seek relationships with other automotive, insurance, and technology companies for the technology.
Canopy plans to launch industry-first, multi-sensor security systems with available professional monitoring early next year. The first products to be manufactured and sold will be available in the U.S. and the U.K. for the industry's highest-volume commercial and retail pickups and vans, including the Ford F-150 pickup, electric F-150 Lightning, Transit vans and E-Transit.
Ford and ADT's investment in Canopy is subject to certain conditions, including regulatory approvals, and initial funding is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022.
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