Over recent weeks, the world has been impacted in a most unprecedented way by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the wake of the deadly virus gripping the majority of central Europe and many other countries, supplies of all kinds are rapidly depleting and consumers are stocking up in order to avoid missing out. Everyday household items are seen to be in short supply and being fought over in the aisles. There have, however, been more pressing issues at hand, namely the shortages of crucial medical and protective equipment for those working on the frontline. It has been well published that medical equipment – from gloves & masks to specialist ventilators – are in short supply, with many governments pleading with other industries to help fill the demand needed.
This has seen a number of manufactures step up to the plate and come together in this time of need. Companies like Dyson, General Motors and now even Tesla have begun the search for solutions to many of the shortages created by the virus.
Let’s focus on Tesla. As we know, they are renowned for their advancement in electric vehicles and have attempted to show numerous car manufacturers how and where they have being going wrong for many years. This approach has seen vehicles like the Model S and 3 take the market by storm and outclass its rivals. Tesla’s success at ‘re-inventing the wheel’ has now set a standard in their attempts in this new ‘arena’. They have been making huge steps in the battle to address the shortage of crucial respiratory ventilators and where other firms have engaged production of existing designs for ventilators, the EV giants have decided to take a different approach.
After pleas of help last month from the Mayor of New York, Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, has made promises that will see the EV standard-bearer designing, creating & producing its own new and unique ventilators. This news was met with the full spectrum of reactions, with many feeling this was a waste of time due to working designs already being tested and available. Earlier this week, footage was released looking into the team of engineers tasked by Tesla to create the new system; in the video demonstration the team explains its decision to create something entirely new.
Whilst at first glance it may seem that creating a completely new system is not the most effective, time critical solution, it does have its benefits. When considering this new approach, time was not the only factor considered, currently the production methods set out by Tesla are specific to that of their vehicles and not ventilators. This is why the team decided against using existing designs for manufacturing. Doing this would would not only potentially slow the process down regardless of the availability, it would also require Tesla to request and consume materials & components that the medical industry desperately needs.
In the video released by Tesla, Engineers talk through the current prototypes that they are working on and how they have managed to ‘repurpose’ existing vehicle parts from the Model S and 3 for example. Engineering Director at Tesla, Joseph Mardall, gave this response for the reasoning behind using Tesla parts; “We want to use parts we know really well, we know the reliability of and have certainty that they’re available in volume.”
The video also focussed on several different designs and diagrams that have been formed to combat this challenge, with parts like the infotainment screen normally found in a Model 3 used as the monitor of ventilators showing plot lines used to see patient’s lung activity. Amazing stuff.
Overall, the footage shows the many different approaches being considered and implemented by Tesla. Whilst we’re yet to get absolute clarity from Tesla around timescales and ultimately the availability of the ventilators, the consideration, focus, resources and energy shown by the EV giant in tackling the biggest post-war crisis that we’ve seen, has to be applauded. Mr Musk and your countless charges, we salute you……