The Prodrive brand has a very long heritage in global motorsports. Most people would often associate them with Subaru and their rally successes. In more recent years, however, they have been closely related to Aston Martin’s racing team in the GT3 class of the World Endurance Championship (WEC).
With no physical motorsport due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has been busy working on saving lives instead. Prodrive recently worked with Cambridge University in the UK to develop a new low-cost ventilator for global use. Called the OVSI (Open Ventilator System Initiative), the unit was designed using components outside the medical supply chain. As such, it can be built much faster and cheaper than most ventilators on the market.
“I am particularly proud of how our team, who had no previous medical experience, gave their time freely and brought this project to fruition in record time. It’s a true vindication of our strategy of applying a motorsport culture to complex technical challenges that require an innovative approach,” said David Richards, Prodrive chairman.
A team of 20 Prodrive engineers worked on the project since early April. After just five weeks, a working prototype of Prodrive’s OVSI ventilator was completed by the Cambridge University’s Whittle Laboratory. In fact, it is now ready for production and has been already tested to the UK Government’s specifications.
Prodrive says the OVSI ventilator is intended to be built for and delivered to Africa; according to the World Health Organization (WHO) there are fewer than 2,000 working ventilators across the continent’s 41 countries. Production will be led by two South African companies, Defy and Denel.
Aside from helping Africa, Prodrive’s new ventilator design will be released on an open-source license by the University of Cambridge. When released, companies around the world can pick up the design and help with the COVID-19 situation in their respective countries. In fact, the Prodrive ventilator might even be used in the Philippines.