Ultraviolet light's ability to kill viruses has moved this technology to the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus. Now the Hyundai Motor Group says it is exploring the idea of using UV light to disinfect automobile interiors, turning the humble dome light into a weapon against the spread of disease.
"HMG is about to use UV light sterilization technology on their vehicles," the company recently announced on its website. The blog post goes on to say that "HMG is planning to develop an interior cabin light that also contains a sterilization feature." Using a ceiling-mounted device is ideal "because it could sterilize the seats, floor mats, dashboard, and the steering wheel all at the same time." Besides using UV light to disinfect surfaces, HMG is investigating its use to remove airborne pathogens as well.
UV light, however, is dangerous to human skin, so the feature would be used only when no one is in the vehicle.
According to a recent New York Times article on the subject, the practice of using UV light fixtures to reduce pathogens dates back at least to the 1930s, when it was used successfully in school buildings in Philadelphia. Today, UV light is employed as a surface disinfectant for subway cars and hospital operating rooms among other public areas.
Hyundai gave no timeline for when the technology might appear in vehicles.