ADT and Ford partner to develop new vehicle security offering

Jan. 18, 2022
Canopy, a new joint venture between the two companies, will launch in early 2023

Many of us remember when vehicle security consisted of a 5-tone siren that sounded incessantly and seemingly without end – sometimes for hours. As time has passed, these sirens gave way to factory-installed systems that sounded the horn and flashed the high-beams when a vehicle was breached. All of these systems have one thing in common: They are almost universally ignored when they are heard.

ADT and Ford are looking to change this vehicle security paradigm, as the companies announced a new joint venture on Tuesday dubbed “Canopy” that will bring AI-powered analytics and professional security monitoring to auto owners across the U.S. and UK beginning next year.

“Canopy’s goal is ambitious – to stop thefts before they occur,” Franck Louis-Victor, Vice President of Ford New Business Platforms, said during a virtual press conference on Tuesday.

Specifically, Canopy will leverage the Safe by ADT mobile platform to connect smart security systems embedded in certain Ford models to the company’s professional monitoring agents to help not only protect the vehicle itself, but also watch over any personal property located onboard. The product is being targeted at commercial vehicles and fleets.

“Customers quite literally have someone looking out for them and their valuables when they need it most,” said Elliot Cohen, Chief Business Development Officer at ADT. “Canopy will draw on the technology and expertise of two leaders and pioneers in their respective fields to create a new category of security and protection for work and personal vehicles.”

How It Works

The system itself will use onboard cameras, as well as motion and acoustic sensors, to detect and alert vehicle owners to the presence of would-be thieves. Additionally, 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. Other capabilities include: 

  • 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 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 smartphone 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 professionals if it detects a person loitering around or breaching the vehicle.

Filling the Vehicle Security Gap

Incubated inside Ford’s New Business Platform team, interim Canopy CEO Christian Moran said they have been working for over two years to develop and pilot the product, which will initially be offered as an aftermarket accessory that will be self-installed by customers in both commercial and consumer grade trucks and vans, including the Ford F-150, F-150 Lightning, Transit vans and E-Transit.  

“This product will fill a notable gap, bringing enhanced security protection to cargo areas. Our pilots confirmed use cases for both commercial and retail customers,” Moran said. “As an example, we know that many fleet and owner-operators store more than $50,000 worth of equipment in their vans and trucks. A theft of this precious cargo robs individuals of their tools and their ability to work.”

According to Louis-Victor, Canopy is also part of broader strategy by the automaker to go beyond offering vehicle-centric products and services. “We saw a gap in the market and an opportunity at the same time to deliver very unique, disrupting premium services – not only by leveraging high technology, which is the case here, but also by partnering with the best security experts outside the traditional automotive space,” Louis-Victor explained. 

Although Canopy will initially only be made available to Ford and Lincoln owners, Cohen said one of the ideas behind making the technology a separate, independent venture is that would be appealing to all automakers.

“We have an opportunity to truly democratize access to a first of its kind smart security solution for vehicles and the valuables owners keep in them,” added Cohen. “There is a significant need and opportunity for better and smarter vehicle security systems. We’re co-creating Canopy to meet that need and to offer a solution to help end thefts from vehicles and to fortify overall vehicle security, including passengers.” 

Cohen added that that the joint Canopy venture has been capitalized by $100 million from both ADT and Ford and that it is a separate technology from the Canopy security-as-a-service offering that was launched by ADT at CES in 2015.

Joel Griffin is the Editor of and a veteran security journalist. You can reach him at [email protected].