Mercedes-Benz, IBM Partner Up on Tech That Uses Live Data to Recover Stolen Cars

Car window break in
A stock photo shows a broken window, something commonly associated with car break ins. Animaflora/Getty Images

Today, Mercedes-Benz and IBM announced that a partnership that has resulted in an add-on to the Mercedes Me app that seeks to help drivers and the authorities find and recover stolen vehicles.

Built on the foundation of IBM's hybrid cloud work, the "Urban Guard – Stolen Vehicle Help" feature within the app collects relevant vehicle and customer data. That data, along with vehicle position data, would be shared with law enforcement through a service partner that is authorized to communicate with police stations worldwide.

"Increasingly, consumers expect and value digital, connected services equally to the drive performance of the vehicle, meaning connected car experiences are as important as horsepower or handling," said Juergen Braun, vice president and industry leader industrial, Automotive IBM DACH. "Developing connected car services that help safeguard the owner's investment is a meaningful way for Mercedes to deepen its relationship with its customers, as well as differentiate itself."

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, car thefts rose by 9.2 percent nationally in 2020. Some spots, like Colorado had far higher numbers. The Centennial State experienced an increase of 37 percent. Across the U.S., one vehicle is stolen every 36 seconds.

IBM Global Business Services and Mercedes collaborated on each part of the development process from the front-end customer experience during a theft, securely sharing secure data and backend processing.

To achieve the high-speed performance necessary, IBM used cloud-native open-source technologies such as Red Hat's Quarkus build to develop the back-end.

The company also facilitates the technical interaction between the various involved parties and existing systems, such as customer data APIs and call center tools.

European drivers were given access to the service in November 2020 after development began at the beginning of that year.. After successful recovery efforts, Stolen Vehicle Help is now available to eligible customers in select countries in North America and Asia Pacific.

The Stolen Vehicle Help service is available in the U.S., but not as part of the Mercedes Me app. U.S. and Canada-based customers are able to call for the service instead of going through the app. The service was integrated into an existing service for stolen vehicle assistance.