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January 19, 2022

Ford, ADT to form joint venture for vehicle security with new technology

Security specialist and automaker combine to offer commercial vehicle owners high-tech vehicle security monitoring.

By Graeme Roberts

Ford and ADT said they would a new joint venture called Canopy which combines ADT’s professional security monitoring and Ford’s AI-driven video camera technology to help customers strengthen security of new and existing vehicles across various brands.

“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.”

Canopy plans to launch claimed industry-first, multi-sensor security systems with optional professional monitoring early in 2023. The first products to be manufactured and sold will be available in the US and the UK for Ford pickups and vans and will be easily installed by customers to protect expensive equipment carried in the vehicles.

“Thieves have been even more active during the pandemic and know business owners store valuable equipment in vehicles, often hauling more than US$50,000 of gear,” said Franck Louis-Victor, vice president, Ford New Business Platform.

The FBI has estimated stolen work equipment cost more than US$7.4bn in 2020 in the US, and theft of valuable work equipment is believed to be underestimated in stolen vehicle reports.

Small business owners face even greater opportunity costs with the deferral or loss of jobs while replacing stolen items.

Canopy also plans to begin integrating security cameras in Ford vehicles next year and will seek factory-vehicle integrations with other automakers later.

Its first smart vehicle security system accessory will make use of acoustic sensors for vans, onboard cameras, radar, LTE, and GPS. The initial product 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 AI technology to identify and report credible threats while reducing false alarm signals.

Customers will be connected to the system via an app to livestream video from the vehicle, get notified of suspicious activity, or review past events. 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.

Customers can warn potential thieves they are being monitored by speaking through the app, enabled by a two-way audio feature that will be available by next year.

The system’s AI is designed to distinguish true threats from benign acts, such as a cat jumping into a pickup bed or construction sounds near a vehicle, before alerting the owner or ADT monitoring agents of potential theft.

The system will alert ADT monitoring personnel if it detects a person loitering around or breaching the vehicle. They can then contact customers, fleet managers, or police to take additional measures to help prevent theft. Credible threats will trigger additional responses, including audible alerts and programmable voice recordings and two-way audio in future updates.

The Canopy products will be sold through vehicle dealerships, major retailers, and online. Ford Pro will be an important launch partner offering these products to commercial and government customers.

“Commercial customers around the world are laser focused on protecting investments from costly replacements that can impact their bottom lines,” said Ted Cannis, CEO, Ford Pro. “Canopy will help [us] 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 the technology will be available across brands.”

Canopy has been developing and testing its first technologies for two years as part of Ford’s New Business Platform innovation incubation group. They will now be based in Detroit and London and run by interim CEO Christian Moran.

Canopy also will seek relationships with other automotive, insurance, and technology companies to expand offerings, explore insurance benefits for use of the technology, and cocreate new innovations.

The deal is subject to regulatory approval but initial funding is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022. The partners expect to invest around $100m during the next three years.

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