Yes, you read that right: Jaguar Land Rover, or JLR, want their future cars to combat the spread of viruses.
Future models from JLR could help stop the spread of colds and flu thanks to ultraviolet light technology (UV-C) borrowed from the medical industry, where it has been used for more than 70 years.
By integrating UV-C in their cars, JLR believes it could help to stop bacteria and harmful viruses – pathogens – from surviving in the cabin.
UV-C is currently widely used for disinfecting water, filtering air and sterilising surfaces by using wavelengths of light between 200 – 280 nanometres.
Exposing pathogens to UV-C within the air conditioning system breaks down the molecular structure of the DNA, neutralising them.
Clean air is then released into the cabin. The technology could even help in the fight against drug-resistant superbugs, JLR says, though it didn’t substantiate its claim.
Right now, JLR is exploring UV-C technology as part of its aim to create a “tranquil sanctuary” inside each of its luxury vehicles.
In fact, several of its cars are already actively seeking to neutralise pathogens in its latest generation Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, available in cars like the all-electric Jag I-Pace and Range Rover Sport.
The current Four-zone Climate Control and Cabin Air Ionisation system works by using high voltage to create trillions of nano-sized negatively charged particles (ions) coated in water molecules.
These ions deactivate pathogens, forming larger particles which are removed from the air as they are brought back into the filter. As well as combatting pathogens, the ions also act upon odour molecules and allergens in a similar way, JLR said.
The manufacturer is piloting a wide range of driver and passenger wellbeing features, as it looks towards a self-driving future.
“The average motorist spends as much as 300 hours per year behind the wheel. There is a clear opportunity to better utilise cars for administering preventative healthcare,” said JLR’s chief medical officer Dr Steve Iley (whoda thunk that JLR had a chief medical officer?!).
“The implementation of individual wellbeing measures as part of our ‘tranquil sanctuary’ research promises to not only improve quality of life for our customers but in this case, offers clear advantages in reducing pathogen spread – protecting the overall population from the threat of disease; particularly as we move towards shared mobility solutions,” Dr Iley added.