Smart Vehicle Technology to Counter COVID-19 Effect

police car

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First responders are on the front lines protecting the public during the global COVID-19 pandemic. They are exposed to the virus and are in dire need of protective measures. A smart vehicle software technology will help law enforcement reduce the footprint of the COVID-19 virus. The new heated software enhancement developed by Ford will pilot with its Police Interceptor Utility vehicles and will be available immediately on all 2013-19 models in the United States, Canada and other countries around the world.

The solution heats the vehicle’s interior until viruses inside are inactivated. Using Police Interceptor Utility’s own powertrain and climate control systems, it enables vehicles to elevate passenger compartment temperatures beyond 133 degrees Fahrenheit (56 degrees Celsius), for 15 minutes – long enough to help disinfect vehicle touchpoints, according to Ford’s website.

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.

To research the effectiveness of this sanitization method, Ford worked closely with The Ohio State University to determine the temperature and time duration needed to help inactivate the COVID-19 virus.

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.

This heated process can be used by law enforcement regularly to help sanitize vehicles when officers are not inside. When used in conjunction with sanitization guidelines approved by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flooding the passenger compartment with elevated air temperature can help reach areas that may be missed by manual disinfecting procedures. Heat has the ability to seep into crevices and hard-to-reach areas, helping reduce the impact of human error in applying chemical disinfectants.