Ford Motor Co. and ADT security are taking action to make criminals think twice about trying to steal your car, truck or van or anything in it.
The companies — through a new joint venture called Canopy — are bringing two new vehicle security packages to market. The first is for truck and van owners who use their vehicles for business, and the second is expanding to also include SUV and car owners.
The antitheft technology will begin going to market as an accessory sold through Ford, Amazon.com, big box stores and other retailers early next year. It will detect credible threats using newly installed camera hardware, artificial intelligence and a mobile smartphone app that alerts vehicle owners with the capability of alerting police. This technology is engineered to monitor cargo areas of high-volume new and used commercial trucks and vans of a variety of makes and models — not just Ford.
This kit, which might be compared to the doorbell camera that’s become so popular, uses professional ADT monitoring with live agents and is available through subscription. This accessory will not integrate with vehicle cameras and systems. Customers will be able to control the system, monitor video via livestream and get threat alerts through a smartphone app.
This monitoring technology will eventually be available for even more new and used trucks and vans while expanding to new and used SUVs and sedans, not just Ford products, the company said.
The industry’s highest-volume commercial and retail pickups and vans will include the Ford Ford F-Series, F-150 Lightning, Transit vans and E-Transit, Ford noted.
After the initial accessory kit is launched, there will be a different security package offered to the owners of new Ford vehicles and available through subscription.
Customers can monitor activity in and around vehicles using existing cameras while also having the option to subscribe to ADT’s monitoring with live agents. This technology will be expanded to other automakers in coming years, Canopy said.
Ford and ADT announced their new security campaign, and creation of Canopy, on Tuesday.
Canopy, which will have offices in Detroit and London, plans to build and sell its first vehicle accessory product and subscription service for trucks and vans in the United States and the United Kingdom.
In the works for two years, Ford began Canopy through its new business platform team as part of an overall initiative to tap into a potential multibillion-dollar revenue stream with consumer software services and subscriptions.
“We’re really excited to announce two industry pioneers coming together,” Elliot Cohen, ADT senior vice president and chief business development officer, told the Free Press.
The key, he said, is marrying the technology with humans monitoring everything and responding in real time to disrupt activity rather than respond to crime after the fact.
No mistakes with birds
“It starts with cameras, sensors and AI,” Cohen said. “AI technology will identify and report credible threats. The technology we’ve been piloting can identify somebody loitering by your car. It can identify somebody or something breaching the cargo bay. It can tell the difference between a bird and a person. What gets unique about this — the technology will then alert ADT monitoring agents who can then contact customers or fleet managers or even escalate to police and then take additional measures to help prevent theft.”
Car owners may sign up to get notified of suspicious activity or monitor the livestream; video themselves.
Prices for the kits and services were not revealed on Tuesday.
Currently, he cited FBI data from 2020 that revealed $7.5 billion in stolen vehicles and equipment was reported in the U.S. in 2020.
In October, Car and Driver magazine reported Ford and Chevy pickups as the most stolen vehicles in 2020.
“Auto thefts have been on the rise during the pandemic,” Cohen said. “We see this as a very timely problem. We have two industry pioneers and again some amazing technology that Ford’s been incubating for the last two years - marrying up what ADT has been doing for decades. We have 4,000 professional training monitoring agents who know what they’re doing. This is their life’s work. When you put it all together. We think we can quite literally end thefts of vehicles.”
These multi-sensor security systems have been tested to tell the difference between a cat jumping on the hood and a thief going into the truck bed.
Franck Louis-Victor, Ford vice president of the New Businesses Platform Team, joined Ford in June 2021 after a long career in Europe specializing in mobile software and entrepreneurial initiatives. He came from Groupe Renault.
“It’s very very exciting to be here at this unique moment when the industry is changing so much,” he said. “We’re going to transform from a carmaker … to an ‘always on relationship between the brand and the customers.’”
The financial investment in Canopy is led by Ford 60% to 40%, Ford told the Free Press.
Ford declined to reveal the specific address of the new company.
The Dearborn, Michigan automaker is expected to debut a restored Michigan Central Station in Detroit’s gentrifying Corktown neighborhood and surrounding buildings including the Book Depository next door that will include technology collaboratives.
Christian Moran, interim CEO of Canopy, has been director of Ford X, the innovation incubator that reports to Louis-Victor.
“The first of the product is actually an aftermarket accessory for many makes and models of vehicles. Canopy is going to sell that direct to consumers - primarily through e-commerce channels,” Moran said.
Canopy is hiring
Then Canopy will also provide its technology to automakers so they can integrate the software into new vehicles, he said. Pilot projects with ADT last year with trucks and vans in the U.S. and Europe provided important intel and early orders for the product.
Canopy begins with a team of 30 to 40 people, Moran said, with plans to grow over the next three years to 250 employees. They’ll be product and technology with a focus on going to market. The team includes software engineers, hardware engineers, electrical engineers, designers and marketers, Moran said.
“The software is largely driven by artificial intelligence, so we have deep expertise in AI,” he said. “Canopy has the relationship with the customer. We’re selling the hardware and the subscription. ADT is the monitoring provider.”
Moran told reporters on a conference call Tuesday that he understands the need for this security because his father is a master carpenter who experienced equipment theft from a vehicle.
Early customers are people like plumbers, electricians, construction workers, landscapers and others who use their vehicles for work.
Thieves on the hunt
“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,” Louis-Victor said in a news release. “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.”
The system will trigger a smartphone alert of any indicators of potential criminal activity, such as breaking glass, metal cutting, or suspicious motion or sound near the vehicle, Ford said in a news release.
Customers can warn potential thieves they are being monitored by speaking through the smartphone app, enabled by a two-way audio feature.
For example, a car owner may say to an intruder, “I can see you, guy in the blue shirt,” Ford told the Free Press.
Alerting police is an option, too
The system will be able to alert ADT security agents to loitering as well as intruder activity. The video captured can be used to make police reports, Ford said.
Canopy is seeking partnerships with automotive, insurance, and technology companies to expand offerings, explore insurance benefits for use of the technology, and co-create new innovations, Ford said in its news release.
The Ford, ADT investment in Canopy is subject to certain conditions, including regulatory approvals, and initial funding is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022, Ford said in its news release. The company said the partners plan to invest approximately $100 million during the next three years.
Ford CEO Jim Farley, who has overseen a surge in the market value of Ford since taking the helm on October 1, 2020, has said technology features are essential to building value and increasing revenues.