Ford (NYSE:F) is about to raise the level of security in its cars to an entirely different level. According to The Detroit News, the automaker is working with a California tech company on surveillance equipment to help protect police officers in their vehicles. Consumers may get the technology next.
The system is called “Surveillance Mode,” and it automatically locks car doors, rolls up the windows, and sounds an alert so the officer knows someone is approaching the car. In addition, it runs a live stream of what’s happening behind the car on the rear-view mirror. Interview Inc. is developing the system with Ford, which will patent it.
In contrast to cameras in today’s cars, which only show what’s happening when the car is in reverse, Surveillance Mode works when the car is parked. Sensors installed in the back bumper indicate that someone is approaching, and then the image appears on the rear-view mirror, along with the automatic safety adjustments to the car, The Detroit News reports. The cost of the service is surprisingly low.
Surveillance Mode, which is only available to police departments at the moment, runs for $258.33, according to the publication. As part of larger packages, the system costs less than $80. Police officers have been the victim of violent assaults from behind in the past, and this trend prompted the creation of Surveillance Mode.
Randy Freiburger, an ex-Ford engineer, told The Detroit News that he realized the need for the technology firsthand when traveling with Los Angeles County officers for research. Freiburger saw the struggle of an officer working by herself to contain multiple suspects. Meanwhile, Freiburger was caught off-guard by another suspect. Det. Yoon Nam, then a sheriff’s deputy, explained the need for Surveillance Mode to the newspaper.
“We’re trained to look up and look around at all times, but having that extra feature in the vehicle would help,” Nam said. After Ford lost the police car market with the decline of Crown Victoria sales, the Dearborn, Michigan, automaker has a reason to try landing more law enforcement accounts.
Surveillance Mode, which rivals like GM (NYSE:GM) can’t answer at the moment, should give Ford a shot to win some of the business from police departments back. The Crown Vic may not be available any longer, but the Taurus sedan with surveillance would be viable when compared to the Chevy Caprice.
Ford representatives didn’t tell The Detroit News if or when the technology would be available for consumers. However, the patented safety technology might catch on in urban markets when it finally makes it into a line of Ford cars.
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