A breathing aid device co-developed by Mercedes High Performance Powertrains, University College London, and UCL Hospital, has now been approved for use by UK’s National Health Service in the battle against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The breathing aid is designed as a ‘Continuous Positive Airway Pressure’ (CPAP) device, which helps coronavirus patients with serious lung infections to breathe without having to use other invasive mechanical ventilation methods – involving insertion of tubes through the skin or mouth.

CPAP devices are currently short on supply in UK hospitals due to the sudden surge in coronavirus patients. As of the 23rd of March, citizens of UK have been told to remain at home by prime minister Boris Johnson, much like what we have here locally.

In order to develop the breathing aid, the team has worked since March 18 at UCL’s engineering hub to reverse-engineer an existing CPAP device, currently used in Italian and Chinese hospitals, to be mass-produced.

According to UCL, the CPAP breathing aid took fewer than 100 hours to develop, from initial meeting to the production of the first device. UCL’s Mechanical Engineering department professor, Tim Baker said, “From being given the brief, we worked all hours of the day, disassembling and analysing an off-patent device. Using computer simulations, we improved the device further to create a state-of-the-art version suited to mass production.”

The breathing aid has now been recommended for use by UK’s regulatory board. Clinical trials have begun at UCL, and a roll-out will be coming soon.

This partnership comes from an initiative by UK-based Formula 1 teams to aid in the fight against the Coronavirus by producing ventilators. Dubbed ‘Project Pitlane’, the collective consists of six other teams, namely Red Bull, Racing Point, Haas, McLaren, Renault, and Williams.

Mercedes HPP’s Managing Director, Andy Cowell, said: “The Formula 1 community has shown an impressive response to the call for support, coming together in the ‘Project Pitlane’ collective to support the national need at this time across a number of different projects.”