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Tesla Engineers Share Details of a Prototype Ventilator Made With Electric Car Parts

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【Summary】Amid the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. automakers including General Motors, Ford and Tesla are pitching in by offering to help build ventilators using their vast supplier networks or various car parts. Engineers at Tesla have already built a working prototype, which includes parts from the Model 3, including the electric car’s center-mounted touchscreen display.

Eric Walz    Apr 06, 2020 12:30 PM PT
Tesla Engineers Share Details of a Prototype Ventilator Made With Electric Car Parts
Tesla's prototype ventilator uses the center-mounted touchscreen display from the Model 3 sedan as a patient monitor.

With a growing shortage of critical medical supplies due to the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. automakers including General Motors, Ford and Tesla are pitching in by offering to help build ventilators using their vast supplier networks or various car parts.

Engineers at Tesla have already built a working prototype, which includes parts from the Model 3, including the electric car's center-mounted touchscreen display, which has been converted into a monitor that displays air flow and pressure, so doctors can evaluate a patient's lung function.

The details were shared in a new video posted on YouTube Sunday night.

The video comes two weeks after Chief Executive Elon Musk said Tesla planned to reopen its New York factory to produce ventilators instead of electric car parts. Musk said his company will offer the makeshift ventilators to hospitals that need them free of charge.

"We've been working on developing our own ventilator design, specifically one that's based heavily on Tesla car parts. We want to use parts that we know really well, we know the reliability of, so we can go really fast and they're available in volume," one of the Tesla engineers said in the video. "There's still a lot of work to do, but we're giving it our best effort to make sure we can help some people out there."

Governments globally have appealed to automakers and aerospace companies to help procure or produce ventilators and other needed medical equipment amid the increasing number of coronavirus in the U.S.

On March 30, Ford Motor Co said it would produce 50,000 ventilators in the next 100 days at a plant in Michigan and could then build 30,000 per month as needed.

Two days ago, The Washington Post reported that Ford workers took apart a ventilator and 3-D scanned each of the roughly 300 parts, creating computer simulations of how the device could be assembled quickly and efficiently. 

Ford has partnered with a ventilator-maker and GE Healthcare, and the automaker has been racing to train workers and obtain the parts to have its first prototype ready early next week.

General Motors bought its first group of 100 project workers into training last week, and the company said it will start producing 10,000 ventilator units per month by as early as mid-May, which for some is too far into the future.

Hospitals that need ventilators faster might have to make due with Tesla's design, which varies from the specific type in high demand right now.

The Financial Times has reported that the devices donated by Musk to some New York hospitals were not the type of ventilators that have been in demand for use in intensive-care units. Rather, they were "Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure" machines, more commonly used to treat sleep apnea. 

However, the design was recently approved by the FDA as an alternative in the event of a ventilator shortage, which is the case with so many new cases of coronavirus being reported in the U.S.

The Center of Disease Control & Prevention reported a total of 351,890 cases in the U.S. on Monday, which resulted in 10,377 deaths. More than a million people have been infected worldwide by the coronavirus. The U.S. has the highest number of cases in the world.

Tesla has been offering to help out since last month. During an appearance on CNBC on March 25, Omar Ishrak, the CEO of medical device maker Medtronic, announced that his company already started working with Tesla to build the much-needed ventilators.

The same day, in a Twitter post Musk wrote that Tesla was "making good progress" on the production of ventilators. "We will do whatever is needed to help in these difficult times." he wrote.

Musk said that Tesla planned to supply FDA-approved ventilators within regions where the electric carmaker delivers. 

As of now, Tesla did not provide a timeline of when the ventilators will be made available, or how many the company will be able to build.

resource from: Reuters

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