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Ford’s New Software Will Disinfect Police Vehicles

Ford's new software update, called “Interior Cabin Heat Soak,” allows police vehicles to heat their interior cabins to deactivate the virus.
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In New York City, around 7,000 police officers – 20 percent of the force – called out sick in April, with nearly 2,000 testing positive for the coronavirus and thousands more forced to self-quarantine to curb exposure. Evidence suggests that frontline workers like police officers and doctors appear to have much higher rates of infection than the general public.

Beginning in late-March, engineers at Ford Motor Company were hard at work to try and find ways to protect police officers from the risk of exposure. They came up with an innovative software designed to kill off over 99% of the virus in a police cruiser.

Helping police vehicles kill coronavirus

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has a limited temperature range in which it can survive. You get the cabin of police vehicles hot enough and the virus dies. As it turns out, the climate control system isn’t designed to get the cabin that hot.

Researchers at the Ohio State University have determined that a 15 minute soak at 133 degrees Fahrenheit will kill off virus in the cabin, including surfaces that might be missed during a cleaning.

Ford-Disinefect-police-Vehicles

The All-New 2020 Police Interceptor Utility (Image: Ford)

Ford Motor Company engineers have modified the software in the powertrain control and body control computers to turn on a new heat soak mode.

“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,” Jeff Jahnes and Jesse Kwiek, laboratory supervisors in the OSU department of microbiology, said in a statement.

Ford Motor Company’s new lineup of Police Interceptor Utility vehicles will reduce the exposure of officers to the coronavirus. The automaker has come up with a novel software solution that bakes it away from the interior of the vehicles.

The new software update, called “Interior Cabin Heat Soak,” allows police vehicles to heat their interior cabins to deactivate the virus.

The new software will be rolled out on the Explorer-based Police Interceptor utility vehicles from 2013-2019. As for 2016 and later models, pressing a specific sequence will activate the heat soak. When the heat soak mode is on, the engine will run at higher than normal idle speed to kill off the virus.

"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."

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