Dubai Future Foundation develops its own prototype ventilator
Dubai Future Foundation has developed its own prototype ventilator. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai Future Foundation has launched a prototype ventilator called M061, to help during the coronavirus pandemic.

Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of Dubai Future Foundation, said the project was implemented under the directives of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of the Executive Council and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Dubai Future Foundation, to address an urgent need for ventilators.

Breakthrough technologies

In an earlier media statement, Sheikh Hamdan had said that the development of the ventilator was part of the country’s efforts to deploy breakthrough technologies in the fight against COVID-19 and to enhance the nation's health-care capabilities.

Given the intense pressure that global supply chains face as a result of restrictions in different countries over the pandemic, the M061 project serves as a response to calls for local ventilator production to meet the needs of the UAE population.

Dubai Future Foundation develops its own prototype ventilator made from components that are readily available on the market
Dubai Future Foundation has developed a prototype ventilator using components that can be easily sourced from the market. Image Credit: Supplied

This crucial health-care project is a partnership between Dubai Future Foundation, the Office of the Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Dubai COVID-19 Command and Control Centre, Ministry of Health and Prevention, Dubai Health Authority, Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences, as well as government agencies, research centres and international institutions.

Robust and rapid prototype

Dubai Future Foundation assembled an interdisciplinary team of local and international engineers, programmers, industry experts and health-care specialists to develop a robust and rapid prototype mechanical ventilator that would also contribute to the international open-source network to tackle the shortage of these life-saving devices.

Over an eight-week period, the project team worked relentlessly to design and build the ventilator as a modular and scalable prototype, relying on interchangeable components that are easy to source and integrate, in an effort to circumvent the worldwide scarcity of crucial medical supplies.

By closely studying existing ventilator designs, the team identified functionality and durability as two key elements that would help make a difference and define the M061 ventilator. The team designed and tested prototype medical ventilator systems that could provide oxygen to patients for longer periods and efficiently adapt to changes in vital parameters such as blood pressure, heart rate and temperature.

Invasive and non-invasive assistance

The M061 prototype has been designed to address the individual needs of patients by delivering multiple modes of ventilation in the pressure and volume mode families, along with further assistive and supportive functions, based on the patient’s breathing capacity. The prototype, which consists of a mechanical airway made of tubes, fitted with various valves, sensors and filters, is capable of providing invasive and non-invasive mechanical respiratory assistance with the aim of sustaining respiratory support for both short as well as long term. Incorporating a custom-printed circuit board (PCB), the prototype facilitates easy interface with various types of I/O (input/output) devices.

A typical ventilation process is a cycle of precisely controlled inhalation and exhalation phases. During the inhalation phase, the ventilator takes in air and compressed oxygen, and blends them in a mixing chamber to achieve the required oxygen concentration for the selected ventilation mode -- normally between 21 per cent and 100 per cent. This mixture is then released into the patient’s lungs according to a specific ventilation profile.

Ventilation profiles are of two types: Pressure-controlled profiles and volume-controlled profiles. Pressure-controlled profiles focus on precisely controlling the pressure during inhalation, to avoid causing a ventilator-associated lung injury (VALI). Volume-controlled profiles attempt to deliver the required volume precisely.

During the development process, the team followed standard professional engineering practices to ensure that the ventilator adhered to the highest quality standards and received input from ventilator specialists currently treating COVID-19 patients. The Project M061 team followed the recently-established Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator System (RMVS) standards outlined by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the United Kingdom.

Supporting existing hospital ventilators

The M061 prototype has been specifically designed to address the unique circumstances of the current pandemic and alleviate the pressure on health-care systems. The prototype is intended to support, rather than replace, existing hospital ventilators that have broader medical applications and are designed to last for significantly longer times.

The team plans to execute a rigorous testing cycle, under the supervision of pulmonary specialists and clinicians in hospitals in Dubai, to ensure that the ventilator system complies with established standards and meets international requirements.

The Project M061 team includes: Khalifa Al Qama, head of Dubai Future Labs and project lead, Saqer Bin Ghalib, director of Artificial Intelligence Office, Dr Tarek Taha, Robotics Lab lead, Rashid Al Suwaidi, software engineer, Majed Al Khatib, lab technician, Hamad Mohamed, software engineer, Layth Mahdi, senior robotics researcher, Alexander Spies, senior integration manager, Julian Ferling, deputy integration manager, Mohamed Alzahmi, software engineer, and Maryam Buhumaid, foresight analyst.

Key features

  • The team took eight weeks to build a system for the ventilator.
  • M061 is based on readily available components in existing supply chains.
  • The device can be easily assembled and scaled according to need.
  • The M061 ventilator is specifically designed to address the unique circumstances of the current pandemic and alleviate the pressure on health-care systems during this crisis.
  • M061 followed the recently-established Rapidly Manufactured Ventilator System (RMVS) standards, outlined by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK.