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IT IS SCIENCE: FORD UPS THE TEMP TO KILL CORONAVIRUS

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IT IS SCIENCE: FORD UPS THE TEMP TO KILL CORONAVIRUS

IT IS SCIENCE: 

FORD UPS THE TEMP TO KILL CORONAVIRUS


You know Ford has been aggressively involved in responding to the Coronavirus pandemic. However, most of those efforts have been focused on the treatment of patients, or the manufacture of protective equipment to prevent transmission. More recently, Ford has turned to science – you know, the Mr. Wizards that have been hovering in Ford’s tech centers for almost as long as there’s been a Ford. And in focusing on transmission, they’ve turned up the heat. An explanation, via Ford’s media release, follows:


Ford Turns Police Interceptor Into Death Valley

For COVID-19 Virus With Simple Software Solution 

Ford is piloting a new heated sanitization software solution that can help neutralize the COVID-19 virus inside its Police Interceptor Utility vehicles, which helps decrease the potential spread of the virus. A software solution temporarily raises interior temperatures beyond 133 degrees Fahrenheit – hotter than Death Valley on the hottest day – for 15 minutes to help reduce the viral concentration inside the vehicle by greater than 99 percent.  

Ford worked with The Ohio State University to determine the temperature range and time needed to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus; additionally, Ford conducted software operational trials with vehicles owned by the New York City Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department and others.   

DEARBORN, Mich., May 27, 2020 – To aid those on the front lines of the pandemic, Ford has designed a new heated software solution to pilot with its Police Interceptor Utility – one that law enforcement agencies across the country can utilize to help reduce the footprint of the COVID-19 virus. 

The latest example of smart vehicle technology, this software solution is available for all 2013-19 Police Interceptor Utility customers in the United States, Canada and other countries around the world immediately. 

“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,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product development and purchasing officer. “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 neutralizer.” 

HOW IT WORKS

The solution is simple: Bake the vehicle until viruses inside are neutralized. Using Police Interceptor Utility’s own powertrain and climate control systems, this software solution enables vehicles to elevate interior cabin temperatures beyond 133 degrees Fahrenheit1, hotter than Death Valley on the hottest day, for at least 15 minutes – long enough to help disinfect vehicle touchpoints. 

Once activated, the vehicle’s powertrain and climate control systems work together automatically to elevate interior cabin temperatures. The software warms up the engine to an elevated level, and then turns both the heat and fan settings on high. Interior temperatures are automatically monitored by the software to know when the entire cabin hits the optimal level and that temperature is then maintained for at least 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 neutralize 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, and they will change at the end to signal completion. Additionally, the instrument cluster inside the vehicle will indicate the progress of the procedure. A cool-down process has also been developed to help bring 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 their vehicles. When used in conjunction with sanitization guidelines approved by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flooding the cabin 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 when applying chemical disinfectants. 

Ford also conducted software operational trials in vehicles owned by the New York City Police Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Michigan State Police, Massachusetts State Police, Boardman Township Police Department in Ohio and Seminole County Sheriff’s Office in Florida. 

THE NEED TO MOVE FAST

The Ford engineering team initiated a project in late March on an idea to de-contaminate vehicles using heat. Shortly after, a discussion with the New York City Police Department alerted Ford to their need for a more efficient disinfecting process during the pandemic. 

“Law enforcement officers are being dispatched as emergency responders in some cases where ambulances may not be available,” said Stephen Tyler, Ford Police brand marketing manager. “During one trip, officers may be transporting a coronavirus patient to a hospital, while another trip may involve an occupant who may be asymptomatic.”

Used to supplement recommended cleaning methods, safely heating the cabin interior can help ensure vehicles are properly disinfected before being deployed again. 

“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,” said Tyler. “This virus is an invisible enemy and we are proud to provide a solution to help the law enforcement community fight it.” 

INITIAL ROLLOUT

Large departments with their own service centers will be able to install the software solution through 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. 

For 2016-19 police vehicles, the heated software process can be activated by a smart sequence of commands that involves pressing cruise control buttons in a predefined order. For 2013-15 vehicles, this mode can be activated and carried out through an external tool that connects to the onboard diagnostics port. 

“Vehicles from the 2013 to 2019 model years make up the majority of Police Interceptor Utility vehicles currently in use by first responders,” said Tyler. “Delivering this new capability to these vehicles first allows us to help as many officers as possible, as quickly as possible.” 

Ford will continue working on ways to bring this software capability to additional Ford police vehicles. 

1 – When applied to factory-built Police Interceptor Utility vehicles. Installation of partitions or other upfit equipment may impede temperatures from reaching the recommended threshold.

David Boldt

Boldt, a contributor to outlets such as AutoTrader.com, Kelley Blue Book and Autoblog, brings to his laptop some forty years of experience in automotive retail, journalism and public relations. He is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, Chicago's Midwest Automotive Media Association and L.A.'s Motor Press Guild. David is the Managing Editor of txGarage and the automotive contributor to Dallas' Katy Trail Weekly.

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