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Mercedes F1 engineers design breathing aid in under a week

30/03/2020
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Mercedes Formula One design team have been working alongside engineers and clinicians from University College London and developers from oxygen monitor manufacturer Oxford Optronix to design a breathing device that could be used in place of a ventilator for Covid-19 patients.

Mercedes-AMG say they could manufacture up to 1,000 CPAP devices per day to help coronavirus patients
(Image via Mercedes-AMG F1)

The team reverse-engineered existing Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices, improving the design and adapting it for mass production. They developed the new device in under a week. 

"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,” explained Professor Rebecca Shipley, Director of UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering.

Engineers from Mercedes and UCL designed the CPAP devices in under a week
(Image via Mercedes-AMG F1)

CPAP devices push an air-oxygen mix in a steady flow through the mouth and nose of patients, at a pressure that will keep the lungs open, maximising the amount of oxygen entering them. It means that less effort is required to breathe in - which is particularly effective for those severely affected by Covid-19.

It’s also less invasive than a ventilator, which involves inserting a tube into the airway.

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

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

The device is less invasive than a ventilator and can help save the use of ventilators for the most serious patients
(Image via Mercedes-AMG F1)


Existing CPAP devices have been used in China and Italy to help Covid-19 patients, but hospital supplies are short. However, if trials with the new device are successful, Mercedes-AMG-HPP believe they can begin manufacturing at scale within a week, producing up to 1,000 machines per day.

So far the team have delivered 40 devices to four London hospitals, including ULCH for testing. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has already given its approval for their use. 

"The Formula One community has shown an impressive response to the call for support,” said Andy Cowell, Managing Director of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains.

“We have been proud to put our resources at the service of UCL to deliver the CPAP project to the highest standards and in the fastest possible timeframe."

CPAP machines help severe Covid-19 patients breathe, and could keep them out of intensive care
(Image via Mercedes-AMG F1)


Meanwhile a separate consortium of engineers from the automotive and manufacturing industries is working on “VentilatorChallengeUK”. Engineers from Ford, Rolls-Royce, Siemens, Airbus and BAE Systems are working together to fulfill an order from the government for 10,000 medical ventilators for the NHS.

"This consortium brings together some of the most innovative companies in the world,” said Dick Elsy, Chief Executive of High Value Manufacturing Catapult. 

"They are working together with incredible determination and energy to scale up production of much-needed ventilators and combat a virus that is affecting people in many countries."

Production is due to begin next week, pending MHRA approval.

Recent Comments
Dear Dsign Team: Great Effort - Thankyou!! I have a CPAP machine in my possession. Q: How can I convert this to be used as an alternative to a ventilator for possible use here. Regards MD
Michiel Diening, 02 April 2020
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Mercedes F1 engineers design breathing aid in under a week - Time to read 3 min
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