Tesla has shared an update on the ventilator it’s developing to address the shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a new video posted on the company’s YouTube channel, Tesla’s engineers show off two versions of the ventilator, a prototype model with its components laid out across a desk, as well as a packaged model that shows how it might look when used by a hospital. Tesla CEO Elon Musk promised to build the ventilators last month after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio asked for the company’s help.
Tesla has been criticized for attempting to invent a new ventilator rather than utilizing an existing design, but the video helps to explain its reasoning. “We wanna use parts that we know really well, we know the reliability of… and they’re available in volume,” one of Tesla’s engineers explains. The company’s ventilator design re-purposes multiple components from its cars, including the Model 3’s infotainment screen and computer, as well as a part used in the Model S’s suspension system. In theory, using these components should help speed up the development and manufacturing process of the machines.
Tesla also isn’t alone in attempting to develop a new ventilator design. Yesterday, The Guardian reported that British firms are pooling resources as they’ve been developing their own ventilator designs. One high profile manufacturer is Dyson, who received an order for 10,000 ventilators from the British government. However, as of yesterday, Dyson’s design is yet to receive regulatory approval from the relevant authorities, according to The Guardian.
In the US, fellow car manufacturers Ford and General Motors have announced plans to make ventilators and other vital equipment for the medical community. Ford is working with GE’s health care division to try and make a “simplified version” of its ventilators, while GM has partnered with Ventec Life Systems to help increase production of its machines.
As well as developing its own ventilator design, Musk says that he’s also purchasing FDA-approved “ventilators” and shipping them to organizations that need them. However, when NYC Health and Hospitals tweeted to thank the CEO for the “essential” equipment, others pointed out that what was pictured were BPAP (Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure) machines, which aren’t as useful for intensive care units, according to The Financial Times.
Musk has faced a wave of criticism for his responses to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which have included downplaying its severity, suggesting in a tweet that children are immune to the virus, and attempting to keep Tesla’s California factory open in violation of a shelter-in-place order.
Despite Musk’s early skepticism about the virus, at least Tesla’s latest video shows that the company’s work on ventilators is progressing.