A few years ago, Ford created an in-house startup incubator called FordX to create and support mobility technologies. FordX has gone public with its newest enterprise called Canopy, a 60/40 joint venture with security company ADT. Canopy wants to do for vehicles what Ring has done for front porches and driveways, namely, provide 24-hour live-streamable video coverage of what’s happening around a car and respond to potential threats by voice or something more. The first product won’t launch in the U.S. and the UK until next year, aimed at commercial van and pickup owners. It will be an easily installable camera fitted with multiple sensor types like radar and acoustic sensors that would go in a van’s cargo area or on the back of a pickup cab looking at the bed. And yes, it will operate via a subscription service.
Ford and ADT have developed AI that claims to know the difference between benign intrusions like opossums and cats, versus thieves. The vehicle owner will be able to log into the video feed to check the situation any time. When a genuine threat like breaking glass or noise like a metal cutter is detected, Canopy will send the owner a notification via the app. The system will also automatically alert ADT in such a situation, where human monitoring agents can contact the owner, fleet manager, or police. Eventually, updates will activate the ability for the owner to speak to the threat through a loudspeaker on the Canopy camera, if desired, or a pre-programmed message can play ED-209 and let the perp know he has ten seconds to comply to instructions.
The first product will launch as part of Ford Pro for Ford vehicles, but the plan is a brand-agnostic system sold at dealers, major retailers, and online. And although the camera that comes next year will be a standalone component, the planned product evolution entails a Canopy system that ties into a vehicle’s cameras and sensors and that serves anyone who wants to protect their belongings, not just commercial users. Peace-of-mind was also a consideration that came up during two years of trials here and in the UK. Said Christian Moran, director of FordX and interim CEO of Canopy, “Although this was not one of our original features, we heard from a number of pilot participants that one of their favorite features was actually livestreaming around their vehicle when it was dark out at night. So imagine walking into a dark, empty parking lot and you can use the app to see around your vehicle.”