All terrain and side-by-side vehicles have the ability to tackle any environment and carry heavy items with ease.

But if they are stolen, the loss can potentially affect how a site runs on a day to day basis. To combat the issue of theft and provide additional security for ATVs and SSVs on top of the traditional options to protect the vehicles, Can-Am introduced the Digitally Encoded Security System (DESS).

The working principle is simple. Like the name suggests (Digitally Encoded Security System), each ‘key’ is fitted with a microchip. In order for the vehicle to work properly, the vehicle’s ECU (Engine Control Unit) needs to ‘recognise’ the chip.

So, it’s not a mechanical device, like a door lock or a regular key and ignition switch. The key must be programmed, or re-programmed by an authorised dealer with licensed software which makes it an extremely effective anti-theft feature.

Dealers can also see if a unit has been stolen and will not re-programme keys without a variety of verification criteria being met beforehand.

DESS started out in 1999 models of Ski-Doo snowmobiles. Before that, there was a mechanical key and a tether cord attached to the rider that was linked to a kill switch in case the rider fell off so it could cut the engine.

Now, with the DESS key on snowmobiles, PWCs, selected ATVs and optional on SSVs, both features are regrouped together and the DESS acts as a key and as an emergency kill switch in case the rider falls off their vehicle.

Can-Am is now using its second generation DESS in the UK. The original worked like a normal key with a switch and the contact between the microchip and the terminal was physical. With the second-generation version, it now uses radio frequency technology to connect the ‘key’ with the vehicle.

The advantage of this system is that it is a lot more robust and no ‘switch’ is needed. The key can also be programmed to have a maximum speed and one key can also be used with multiple units which eliminates having to carry multiple keys.

Systems similar to DESS keys are now implemented in the car industry, but when BRP started in 1999, it was a pioneer. Tto this day, Can-Am is the only manufacturer that has this technology that will make the ATV, or SSV virtually unusable in the case of theft.