Mercedes help develop breathing aid in under 100 hours

Date published: March 30 2020 - Mark Scott


The Mercedes Formula 1 team has helped with the design of a new breathing aid that has been approved to be used by the NHS.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate, there is a pressing need for ventilators in the UK and, in order to help ease the pressure, Mercedes, engineers at the University College London and clinicians at the University College London Hospital have joined forces to create a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device.

The device, which has been developed in less than a week, will help keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care and without the need of a ventilator.

By reverse engineering the new CPAP devices, the developer took existing products and were able to immediately improve on the design by also looking into current off-patent CPAP machines.

“Normally medical device development would take years but we’ve done that in days because we went back to a simple existing device and ‘reverse engineered’ it in order to be able to produce them quickly and at scale,” professor Rebecca Shipley, Director of UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering, told the BBC.

The developers have now predicted, with the help from Mercedes, that 1000 CPAP devices can now be produced each day.

UCLH critical care consultant Professor Mervyn Singer added: “These devices are a halfway house between a simple oxygen mask and invasive mechanical ventilation which requires patients to be sedated.

“They will help to save lives by ensuring that ventilators, a limited resource, are used only for the most severely ill.”

Mercedes are one of seven Formula 1 teams all part of ‘Project Pitlane’, an initiative that will also see Red Bull, Racing Point, Haas, McLaren, Renault and Williams work across a variety of different ventilator projects in the coming weeks and months.

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