The automotive industry has been working hard to support the healthcare industry in the world’s battle against the Coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has swarmed the planet and with no real vaccine in existence, the highly contagious virus seems to be unstoppable. Globally, many automakers are helping design ventilators, and produce them along with protective equipment. Ford has now announced that it has developed new software for its police interceptor vehicles that can kill the Coronavirus and has rolled it out to law enforcement agencies. The software in the Police Interceptor Utility vehicle features a new heat enhancement function that is claimed to reduce the footprint of COVID-19. Ford has made this software available across all Police Interceptor Utility vehicles in the United States, Canada and other parts of the world that use Ford vehicles built between 2013-19.
Hau Thai-Tang, Ford chief product development and purchasing officer said, “First responders are on the front lines protecting all of us. They are exposed to the virus and are in dire need of protective measures. We looked at what’s in our arsenal and how we could step up to help. In this case, we’ve turned the vehicle’s powertrain and heat control systems into a virus neutraliser.”
The system works in a fairly simple manner where it bakes the interior of the vehicle by turning up the heater beyond 133-degrees F (56.1-degrees C) for 15 minutes.
The system works in a fairly simple manner where it bakes the interior of the vehicle by turning up the heater beyond 133-degrees F (56.1-degrees C) for 15 minutes. This helps reduce the viral concentration inside the cabin of the vehicle by greater than 99%. The software uses the vehicle’s powertrain and climate control system to elevate the cabin temperature. After careful research by Ford along with The Ohio State University, ford has been able to determine the temperature range and time needed to reduce the effectiveness of the virus.
The software is designed to warm up the engine to an elevated level and the climate control setting is turned up to deliver maximum heat. The cabin temperature is monitored by the system and maintained for 15 minutes.
Laboratory supervisors, Jeff Jahnes and Jesse Kwiek, at The Ohio State University department of microbiology who worked on the project, said, “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% on interior surfaces and materials used inside Police Interceptor Utility vehicles,”
There will be multiple ways for officers who use the vehicles to monitor the progress of the sanitisation process. The heating process is followed up by a cool-down period that brings the temperature back to normal conditions. Ford suggests that the software application used in conjunction with the sanitisation guidelines approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can be used regularly to sanitise the vehicle.
A pilot test project for the software was conducted by Ford in vehicles owned by the New York City Police Department (NYPD), Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Michigan State Police, Massachusetts State Police, Boardman Township Police Department in Ohio and Seminole County Sheriff’s Office in Florida before being rolled out to other agencies.
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