After being forced to close major factories and lay off hundreds of contractors, Tesla is focusing on what it can still do: build ventilators out of car parts. In a video published on Sunday, the automaker provides an update on its ventilator design and the car parts it relies on.
“We wanna use parts that we know really well; we know the reliability of and we can go really fast and they’re available in volume,” a Tesla engineer said from behind a medical mask (which all of the staff can be seen wearing).
The ventilator prototype uses a vehicle suspension air tank as an oxygen mixing chamber and is powered by a Model 3 infotainment system, which controls an air flow manifold and touch screen monitor where doctors and nurses can track patients’ respiratory history.
Tesla chief Elon Musk in March announced that the company was “making good progress,” and “will do whatever is needed to help in these difficult times.” Including reopening its New York Gigafactory for ventilator production “as soon as humanly possible.” The firm last week began shipping FDA-approved ventilators to hospitals worldwide.
Ford Motor Company is also using its resources for good, recently joining forces with 3M and GE Healthcare to ramp up production of much-needed respirators, ventilators, and face shields. Beyond boosting manufacturing capacity, the companies are leveraging parts—fans from the Ford F-150’s cooled seats, 3M HEPA air filters, portable tool battery packs—to develop a new respirator design. UK appliance maker Dyson, meanwhile, created what it calls the “CoVent” ventilator to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.