CHANDAN B MALLIK, Kolkata: It’s a race against time for traditional manufacturers of ventilator set-ups and also for the new players who have entered the fray in the battle against COVID-19 pandemic.
Production issues are aplenty and there’s no quick-fix solution as many components used in the machine have to be sourced from various suppliers who could be located anywhere in globe. And given the current disruptions, it’s difficult to work out logistics as most manufacturing units are idled.
And the desperation shows up when things don’t move on as planned. It’s also no secret that governments in several countries like India, US, UK, Europe among others have sent out appeals to automakers for help in their individual capacities. Big automakers have access to state-of-the art technologies — be it electronics, 3D printing, precision parts design and fabrication, R&D test facilities among others which could be used for making parts or complete ventilator machines.
Different automakers have been updating with the progress made so far. It seems that Elon Musk’s Tesla is a bit ahead of the game of actual working ventilator prototypes. Engineers working at the company have cobbled up parts from its existing production cars like the LCD screen, air and oxygen mixing chamber, power supply of the infotainment system computer, various controllers, precision valves among other vital components and prepared the first working prototype of a ventilator out of them.
On Sunday, Tesla engineers provided an inside peek of their ventilator prototype. The four-minute-long video posted on YouTube highlights in details the engineering behind the prototype ventilator by engineering director Joseph Mardall and his team.
In the video demonstration, the prototype ventilator uses the car’s central display touchscreen as a user interface for monitoring and the vehicle’s infotainment motherboard as the chief computing system that in this application controls the gas flow of variable valves.
What is not clear whether the working prototype has been approved for series production or not. “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,” says Mardall.