All-girl Afghan Robotics Team build low-cost ventilator using car parts

Country

Afghanistan

Update

August 28, 2020

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All-girl Afghan Robotics Team build low-cost ventilator using car parts

Country

Afghanistan

Update

August 28, 2020

Share & Support

The all-girl Afghan Robotics Team have developed a mobile and inexpensive ventilator that will help COVID patients in Afghanistan. The device costs a fraction of normal ventilators and is partly built with car parts.

The six female strong team of engineers from Herat (Afghanistan) is known for winning prestigious international awards for their robot designs. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Afghanistan, the need for ventilators - crucial during the pandemic - became an immediate concern. Afghanistan’s reserve of ventilators was small and far from sufficient. The shortage prompted local officials to ask the engineers to design a low-cost and easy to carry ventilator. The team immediately started working on the device, which is partly based on a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) blueprint. They also received guidance from experts from Harvard University.

Build with car parts

It took almost four months to build the ventilator. During this time the team had to deal with several challenges. For one, they were working on the device during the fasting month of Ramadan. They also had to care for their own safety amid the pandemic, so contact among group members was kept to a minimum. Lastly, due to the COVID lockdown, importing parts to build the ventilators was all but impossible. They solved this problem by buying car parts from local second-hand markets, such as windshield wipers, gear box and motor along with some motorbike parts.

 

Not only are the ventilators inexpensive and lightweight, the device is also open-source, meaning that everybody can use the blue-print to build similar ventilators. The easy to carry device can run on batteries for 10 hours. Also, with its $700 manufacturing price it is highly affordable to produce, compared to $20,000 of a traditional ventilator.

Urgency for ventilators

With only 800 ventilators available for 38.9 million people, Afghanistan’s strategic reserve of ventilators is small and far from sufficient for the projected gap. There is an urgent need for more ventilators.

 

The mobile ventilators are a mechanised version of hand-operated ventilators, also known as bag-valve-ventilators, which are used in ambulances and in emergency care to help patients breathe until they can be ventilated on a machine.

 

Although the ventilators still need to be approved by the World Health Organisation, the Afghan Ministry of Health already has plans to export the device after its implementation in the Afghan health sector.

 

If you would like to build an emergency ventilator to help COVID patients in your community, you can download the information and blueprint at the MIT Emergency Ventilator Project.