Raspberry Pi-Powered Ventilator Being Tested In Colombia

The code and design is open source, too

A ventilator made with off-the-shelf parts and an affordable computer "brain" will likely help the shortage of COVID-19 supplies around the world.

Raspberry Pi 3 circuitboard
Lifewire / Richard Saville

A Colombian team of medical workers are currently testing a ventilator system powered by a Raspberry Pi. The system, created by California roboticist Marco Mascorro, uses easily-obtainable parts along with the inexpensive hobbyist computer board.

When: According to the BBC, Mascorro posted his designs in March, and made adjustments after feedback from medical professionals. The testing is currently set for five days of artificial lung inflation, after which (if successful), it will be tested on animals, and eventually human trials in May.

Where: The testing is taking place at the University Hospital of the Pontifical Xavierian University and Los Andes University in Bogota.

Why: The parts for traditional ventilator systems are hard to find, the Colombian medical team told the BBC, while this one uses components that can be found at car and plumbing supply stores. That makes it easy to create and maintain in areas that don't have access to higher-end medical supplies.

Bottom Line: The tiny computer brain and DIY-ethos of this ventilator project can only help in a world already burdened by the pandemic. If nothing else, small medical teams can access the open-source plans to make their own ventilators once they've been proven effective.

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