Ford announced new software Wednesday that will allow police to kill “99.9 per cent of viruses” that may be hiding on surfaces in 2013-2019 Ford Police Interceptor SUVs. The software is already in use in some police precincts and is available for all current-generation vehicles.
Ford got the idea from New York police officers who were concerned about safely and thoroughly eradicating Covid-19 from their cars, according to the Detroit Free Press. Here’s how Ford describes the technology:
The solution is simple: Bake the vehicle’s interior until viruses inside are inactivated. Using Police Interceptor Utility’s own powertrain and climate control systems, this software solution enables vehicles to elevate passenger compartment temperatures beyond 133 degrees Fahrenheit (56 degrees Celsius), hotter than Death Valley on its hottest day, for 15 minutes – long enough to help disinfect vehicle touchpoints.
Once activated, the vehicle’s powertrain and climate control systems work together automatically to elevate passenger compartment temperatures. The software warms up the engine to an elevated level, and both heat and fan settings operate on high. The software automatically monitors interior temperatures until the entire passenger compartment hits the optimal level, then that temperature is maintained for 15 minutes.
Once the cycle is complete, the Ford automatically enters a cool down mode, and flashes its lights to let police know when it is entering each cycle and when the vehicles are safe to enter.
A team from Ohio State University helped research the proper heat and time duration for Ford, while the process was tested in New York and Los Angeles police departments as well as cars used by the Michigan State Police, Massachusetts State Police, Boardman Township Police Department in Ohio and Seminole County Sheriff’s Office in Florida.
Ford started researching the possibility of a software answer to decontaminating Police Interceptors in mid-March. Just two months later, the software is widely available. Ford says large departments with their own service centres can install the software solution using their own diagnostic service tools, while other fleets can work with their local dealers to install the software for 2013-19 Police Interceptor Utility vehicles.