McLaren helping development of mobile respiratory device to protect frontline NHS staff

Throughout this unprecedented time of healthcare crisis during the global coronavirus pandemic, several feelgood stories are emerging in the fight against the virus.

As has been widely reported over recent weeks, the Formula One community is also doing its bit, with British-based teams designing and putting into production respiratory devices to help ease the burden of the National Health Service.

According to the University of Southampton, the prototype ‘uses off-the-shelf components’ and ‘consists of a fabric hood which covers the wearer’s head, integrated with a plastic visor to protect their face’.  It works by the unit delivering clean air through a HEPA filter to the wearer from a battery powered fan pack mounted on a belt.

The mobile unit delivers clean air through a HEPA filter to the wearer from a battery powered fan pack mounted on a belt. ©University of Southampton

“We must minimise the risk of infection for medical staff and stop them getting sick at the peak of the pandemic, so that they can care for others,” commented Paul Elkington, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Southampton. “The engineering team have rapidly developed something simple yet effective. The HEPA filtered air removes 99.95% of particulate matter and the face mask protects from splashes, and so we think this will reduce the risk of infection”.

Hywel Morgan, Professor of Bioelectronics at the University of Southampton added, “This is an excellent example of industry, universities and hospitals combining their expertise and answering the call to develop solutions needed to save lives in the current crisis.

“We are really grateful to our partners at McLaren, Kemp Sails and INDO on behalf of Baynhams for their commitment in working around the clock with us to getting this from a concept to a working prototype in a matter of days.”

McLaren has developed the prototype in conjunction with the University of Southampton and Kemp Sails © Ric Gillams
Motorsport Technology

Motorsport Technology