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New Ford software update heats car interior to kill coronavirus

New Ford software update heats car interior to kill coronavirus

Ford has announced they are in the middle of testing a new piece of software that can override climate control protections to heat the interior of a vehicle to 133 degrees. Enough to kill the coronavirus.

The software is currently being tested in the awesome Ford Police Interceptor SUV. A high risk place considering the number of people it would seat during an average day.

The idea is that the vehicle’s climate control can be used along with the engine to generate enough heat to kill 99% of the virus. The temperature has been set to 133 degrees Fahrenheit for a period of 15 minutes to maximize its effect.

“Law enforcement will have multiple ways to monitor progress. Hazard lights and taillights will flash in a pre-set pattern to notify when the process has begun, then will change at the end to signal completion. The vehicle’s instrument cluster will also indicate progress. A cool-down process brings the temperature down from its highest points.”

Time and temperature

Ford worked with Ohio State University to come up with the temperature and time and this combination was found to be most effective. A full release from Ford can be found here.

“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 percent on interior surfaces and materials used inside Police Interceptor Utility vehicles," said Jeff Jahnes and Jesse Kwiek, laboratory supervisors in the OSU department of microbiology.

The current version of the software is still in testing phase but should be with us shortly. It can be loaded onto Ford Explorers from 2013 onwards. Further testing includes the software being loaded onto more Police Interceptors to provide a safe work space for officers.

"Officers can now use this self-cleaning mode as an extra layer of protection inside the vehicle in areas where manual cleaning is prone to be overlooked," Stephen Tyler, Ford police brand marketing manager, said in a statement. "This virus is an invisible enemy, and we are proud to provide a solution to help the law enforcement community fight it."

Once proven, we assume it will be rolled out to other Ford Explorers assuming their climate control is able to achieve such a high temperature.

Police Interceptors in the US and Canada will be getting the update soon.

After coronavirus

One thing that isn’t mentioned is the toll this heating process will take on the climate control system and internal surfaces. Anyone who has left a car in direct sunlight for any length of time will know only too well that car interiors do not like temperature that much.

How will this heating process affect upholstery? The dashboard and harder surfaces? How will the electronics handle the temperature? How will touchscreens fare? How will a regular cycle of heating and cooling affect the interior over the longer term? How often will a climate control system need to be replaced?

Ford has come up with a great idea for the short term. It could genuinely help police officers work safer and provide a safe space for passengers. That can only be a good thing, regardless of any issues that arise later.

Categories: Car News