A software update from Ford is literally cooking away the COVID-19 virus inside 2013-2019 Police Interceptor SUVs.
The idea came in response to law enforcement officials who had expressed concerns about the coronavirus inside their police vehicles.
According to a statement from Ford, the company tested the new software across a number of jurisdictions that use Ford Police Interceptor SUVs, including the Michigan State Police, New York City Police and Los Angeles Police, all of which are now using the novel technology.
Ford said the software update heats the interior of police vehicles to beyond 133 degrees Fahrenheit (56 degrees Celsius) for a period of 15 minutes.
According to a team of researchers from Ohio State University, that’s long enough to disinfect the main touchpoints inside the SUV.
“Our studies with Ford Motor Company indicate that exposing coronaviruses to temperatures of 56 degrees Celsius, or 132.8 degrees Fahrenheit, for 15 minutes reduces the viral concentration by greater than 99 per cent on interior surfaces and materials used inside Police Interceptor Utility vehicles,” said a statement issued by Jeff Jahnes and Jesse Kwiek, laboratory supervisors at Ohio State's microbiology department.
According to the report, the spike in temperature is generated by the software update which allows the vehicle to idle at higher than normal revs, which results in higher heat transfer into the cabin.
“First responders are on the front lines protecting all of us,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford chief product development and purchasing officer. “They are exposed to the virus and are in dire need of protective measures,” “We’ve turned the vehicle’s power train and heat control systems into a virus neutraliser.”
The system is not used with people inside the vehicle which sends a signal that the process is taking place via the use of hazard lights and tail-lights which flash in a predetermined pattern. Once the process is complete, that pattern changes. Additionally, the instrument the cluster displays the system’s progress.
Ford said there are around 176,000 Police Interceptor SUVs from the model year 2013-19 in use in various jurisdictions in the US. The company is now investigating expanding the technology to other police vehicles.