Robots that press buttons for a living, Ford and the incredible car tech you didn't know existed

He who smelled it, dealt it

Next stop on our lab tour is that clever air sniffing tech. According to Ford, sneezing behind the wheel while traveling at, say, 60mph can leave the driver blind for up to 20 metres. Driving in urban environments can mean exposure to high levels of air-borne nasties like nitrogen dioxide and particulates.

Part one of the solution is a new high-density 'activated charcoal' air filter similar, Ford says, to that used in advanced gas masks and space suits. It's claimed to block fine particulates as small as one thousandth the width of a human hair, with ease.

I got a demo of the filter in Ford's lab and the subjective effect was dramatic. First, Ford forced me to sniff some malodorous, eggy air. Thanks. Then I breathed in the same air after it had been filtered with its new tech. Result: sweet, sweet relief and the kind of proof you won't soon forget.

The second part of the solution is a 'sniffer' chip that detects when pollutant levels outside the car are elevated and closes off the cabin temporarily – a typical example is when entering a tunnel. The chip will detect the concentrated exhaust gases and switch to recirculating the cabin air.

The upshot of all this is a system that blocks almost all nitrogen dioxide – a key trigger of asthma – and up to 99 per cent of pollen, and gaseous pollutants and odours. Ford says the resulting air quality is equal to or better than ambient air quality rural locations.

This silent but deadly tech is available today in Mondeo, S-MAX and Galaxy models. If you're driving with someone who's eaten sprouts, you may have cause to thank the designers.


Technology and cars. Increasingly the twain shall meet. Which is handy, because Jeremy (Twitter) is addicted to both. Long-time tech journalist, former editor of iCar magazine and incumbent car guru for T3 magazine, Jeremy reckons in-car technology is about to go thermonuclear. No, not exploding cars. That would be silly. And dangerous. But rather an explosive period of unprecedented innovation. Enjoy the ride.