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An Open Source Ventilator Powered by Raspberry Pi and Arduino Goes Into Testing in Colombia

Marco Mascorro's "Pandemic Ventilator" is to undergo testing, including animal and human trials, with a view to mass production.

Built from plumbing and car parts, Mascorro's ventilator is driven by a Raspberry Pi. (πŸ“·: Marco Mascorro)

An open source, low-cost ventilator powered by a Raspberry Pi single-board computer and Arduino microcontroller is to go into testing in Bogota, as the Colombian health service seeks a means of increasing the number of ventilators available to COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care.

Engineer Marco Mascorro, formerly of BMW Research and presently the founder of machine learning startup Fellow AI, began an effort to design an open source ventilator made from easily-obtainable parts back in March. While initial designs were purely mechanical, his most recent variant is controlled by a Raspberry Pi and Arduino Uno β€” and, despite his lack of experience in the field of medical devices, has drawn the attention of the Colombian health service.

According to an article published by the BBC today, Mascorro's design is to be put into testing at the University Hospital of the Pontifical Xavierian University and Los Andes University as the Colombian health service β€” like those of many nations around the world β€” looks to dramatically increase its stock of ventilators ahead of a predicted peak of COVID-19 patients which will dramatically outstrip existing stocks and commercial supply.

The testing, the BBC reports, will see Mascorro's design trialled on artificial lungs for five days, then fast-tracked animal trials. Should it pass both stages, human trials are scheduled for early May - then mass-production and a roll-out to hospital patients will follow.

The Colombian researchers have been able to reproduce Mascorro's design thanks to his decision to publish it as open source, though under an unspecified license. The design files, datasheets, and source code can be found on GitHub β€” though, as a work-in-progress, may not represent the latest revision.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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