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Although auto theft rates have decreased substantially since the early 1990s, car safety remains a risk. Unfortunately, in 2020, the risk nudged higher than it had been in some time. This had led many automakers, including Ford, to take up new anti-theft technology initiatives.
Anti-theft technology has evolved throughout time. According to Black Knight Tracking, Leach Automobile developed the first piece of anti-theft technology in 1900. The creation was a removable steering wheel. Drivers used to physically haul around these steering wheels when they left their vehicles, replacing them only when they were ready to “take the wheel” again!
Starting in 1914, power locks became available on some models of cars. Around that time, a Danish prisoner invented the very first car alarm as a simple design. A patent for an immobilizer was released a few years later. Of course, locks, alarms, and immobilizers have become much more sophisticated throughout the years, yet they’re still not enough to protect against thieves intent on evading the technology.
As of 2020, over 800,000 vehicles were reported stolen, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). The combined losses from that year total up to an astounding $7.4 billion. So, what’s the next step in improving anti-theft technology features.
In an effort to outsmart an increasing number of would-be car thieves, Ford has partnered with trusted security company ADT. The name of their new anti-theft product is “Canopy,” and it’s supposed to revolutionize protection for vehicles and the property inside. According to CarBuzz, Canopy utilizes a blend of Ford’s video tech and ADT’s security monitoring. Essentially, cars hosting Canopy are types of fortresses with 24-7, AI-powered “guards.”
Canopy focuses on pickups and vans, the two vehicles most likely to be carrying expensive goods. A camera is set in either the bed of the pickup truck or the van’s cargo area. The linked video demonstrates that the camera is self-installable, making it simple for the owner to pinpoint the most secure setup. Auto owners will also appreciate that this “do-it-yourself” tech eliminates any would-be installation costs.
Canopy uses a variety of built-in and onboard features, such as radar, LTE, GPS, and even acoustic sensors in some cases. These pieces of sensing technology integrate with the Canopy camera, forming a connected monitoring system. The AI technology in Canopy helps to cut down on false alerts while at the same time recognizing signals that could provide warnings about actual danger.
The genius part of the Canopy anti-theft system is that it can connect directly to a user’s smartphone. A user will receive alerts about suspicious activities which might indicate that the vehicle is under threat, including glass breaking and unusual motions around the car. Additionally, the user can live-stream direct video footage from a parked vehicle to check any threats.
Next year, Canopy will release a strangely exciting advancement to the product. Through the magic of a two-way audio system, owners will be able to speak to any would-be thieves, warning them to stay away from the vehicle. Still to be revealed: will users be able to modify their voices to sound extra-threatening?
Of course, live monitoring and audible warnings can only go so far. The beauty of Canopy is in its integration with ADT. ADT professionals will immediately receive notice if the system detects a significant pressing alert. They’ll have the ability to alert the police and/or the owner, foiling the car theft plot in its tracks.
The anti-theft technology in the Canopy system was a long time coming and a welcome update for an increasingly-dangerous world. We can only hope that other automakers will take the cue and adopt other similar security systems for their cargo vehicles – or even for their passenger vehicles. After all, a fantastic car isn’t of any use if you can’t actually keep it, and nobody wants to worry about their car being stolen.  
RELATED: What Automakers Are Doing to Address Digital Security

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