Tesla Engineers Built a Ventilator Prototype Using Car Parts

They took to YouTube to explain the design

Tesla ventilator prototype
Tesla's ventilator prototype is powered by the Model 3 infotainment system.
Screenshot via Tesla on YouTube
By Alex Lauer / April 6, 2020 1:48 pm

Tesla has done a complete 180 on its response to COVID-19. First, CEO Elon Musk downplayed the threat at the beginning of March, tweeting that “coronavirus panic is dumb.” By the end of the month, he was offering free “FDA-approved ventilators” to hospitals. 

Then on Sunday, Tesla engineers took to YouTube to demonstrate a brand-new ventilator prototype they developed using car parts from the company’s electric vehicles.

“We’ve been working on developing our own ventilator design, specifically one that’s heavily based on Tesla car parts,” said Joseph Mardall, an engineering director at Tesla, in the video. “We want to use parts that we know really well, we know the reliability of, and we can go really fast, and they’re available in volume.”

Here’s the video in question, which already has over 1.5 million views:

Ventilators have been top of mind in the past few weeks as the medical devices are needed for treating patients with COVID-19 who also need help breathing, but the U.S. is experiencing a shortage. Larger automakers like Ford and GM are working to build thousands of ventilators, but Tesla is showing that even smaller, less established companies can play a part.

Obviously, a four-minute YouTube demonstration is not the same as producing a user-friendly product that also clears regulatory approval for use in hospitals — but the engineering team seems aware of the obstacles and is forging ahead anyway. 

“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,” said Lars Moravy, Tesla’s vice president of vehicle engineering.

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