May 27 (UPI) -- Ford Motor Company unveiled new software Wednesday it says will kill germs inside vehicles by heating the interior to more than 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
The software, intended for police vehicles, heats the interior for 15 minutes and reduces viral concentrations by more than 99 percent when the automobile is not in operation and no one is inside, Ford 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," Hau Thai-Tang, Ford chief product development officer, said in a statement. "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.
Fifteen minutes is the length of time needed to kill viruses on surfaces, researchers at Ohio State University said.
Ford will make the software available for all its Police Interceptor SUVs in the United States and Canada.
When the system is activated, the powertrain and climate control systems work together automatically to raise temperatures to 133 degrees while the software warms up the engine and fan settings operate on high.
The system automatically shuts down if certain components in the vehicle, like the steering wheel, are moved and indicate someone is inside.