How Mercedes F1 and Academics Quickly Produced Life-Saving Breathing Aids

With the coronavirus pandemic spreading to nearly every country in the world, the number of hospital patients needing respiratory support is becoming unprecedented. It’s not easy for manufacturers to quickly make huge numbers of extra ventilators so there is likely to be an imbalance in supply and demand for the necessary equipment to provide this support. To alleviate this problem, a team of engineers from UCL and Formula One engine maker Mercedes-AMG HPP have been working flat out to manufacture large numbers of a continuous positive airway pressure device. This machine, similar to those commonly used to treat sleep apnea, can support patients with severe breathing problems, freeing up ventilators for the most critically ill. As with all things coronavirus related, speed is of the essence. The team has pulled off the task of moving from reverse-engineering an original product and producing a new design, through testing and regulatory approval to full-scale production in under 10 days.

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