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Innovating healthcare with Blacksheep ROBO2 Ventilator: Bridging gaps in critical care


Blacksheep has been working on an R&D project for medical equipment since April 2020. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, our CEO, Mark, realized that there would be a serious shortage of ventilators and that there is an opportunity to work in creating smart ventilators. Consulting expert Doctors and end-users, we realized the broader problem involved multiple resources during health emergencies. Blacksheep’s vision is to create a sustainable solution accessible to both developed countries as well as Low to Middle Income Countries (LMIC), benefiting global health in normal times and pandemics.

Current challenges with existing ventilators include:
  1. Need for specialized medical skills: Ventilators require experienced doctors to operate, limiting their use in cases of medical staff shortages.
  2. High infrastructure requirements: These devices often demand advanced hospital infrastructure, which is not suitable for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) or during epidemics.
  3. Complex supply chain: The intricate supply chain involves numerous specialized component manufacturers, making it difficult to scale up ventilator production quickly, as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. High cost: The diverse component supply chain drives up ventilator costs significantly.

Blacksheep’s ultimate aim is to create a ventilator that solves mentioned problems:

Safe and Smart Ventilator

Safe and Smart Ventilator

  • Easy to be used by non-expert doctors and nurses.
  • With AI integration, the ventilator will gradually be operable with less support from doctors.
  • Easy to maintain and service by medical staff without training.

Scalable Manufacturing

Scalable Manufacturing

  • In-house component design reduces reliance on external manufacturers.
  • Cuts costs through integrated Blacksheep-designed components.
  • Aims to reduce ventilator costs to 1/3 of the current market average.

Rigorous Standards Compliance

Rigorous Standards Compliance

  • Developed, tested, and manufactured with the high level of diligence required for this type of product.
  • Following ISO13485, O2 compliance certification, and global certification standards.

Ventilator for beyond the pandemic

Although the project was initiated during COVID-19 pandemic, we are building this smart ventilator that will last beyond the pandemic. Our projects are completed in a series of phases which is not limited to this time and pandemic. Rather we want to ensure that we build a product that adheres to international quality without cutting corners to meet demands. Illustration of the process below:

Design and Development Process

In this initial phase, the primary objective was to gain a comprehensive understanding of the engineering challenge posed by the development of a ventilator. The team studied various aspects, including different projects, pandemic and epidemic events, and the ecosystem of ventilators.
Scribble of system diagram and integrated layer concept idea
This included extensive research into the problems at hand and the creation of a proof of principle prototype. The goal was to establish a robust foundation for the subsequent phases of product development.
ROBO2 Working Principle
During this phase, we implemented a concept integrated layer structure. We focused on utilizing consumer-graded components instead of medical-graded ones, provided it’s feasible for designing the ventilator. Additionally, hypotheses were formulated to address the challenges identified in this phase.

Module Actuator

Layer Design Concept

Concept Assembly

The Alpha Prototype 1 marked a significant milestone, approximating 70-80% of the final product. It underwent rigorous testing, prioritizing manufacturing scalability and oxygen compliance. We adopted the “suitcase concept” for easy part replacement and focused on motor development for scalability and oxygen compliance. Challenges included addressing slow actuator speed through a redesign process, simplifying flowrate calculations, reducing noise and improving pressure and flowrate in the pumping system. These challenges led to the decision to transition to Alpha Phase 2 to comprehensively address these issues.

The Suitcase Concept

Motor's Old Design in Prototype 1

In April 2021, our team began working on Alpha Prototype 1, focusing on several key objectives, including redesigning the actuator, transitioning to a cycloidal drive, establishing a robust experimental process, gaining expertise in BLDC motors, and developing testing prototypes. Initially, the team faced challenges, such as a lack of cohesion, incomplete handover documents, and disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March 2022, the project adopted an agile approach, creating a test platform to address various challenges, including redesigning the test platform, improving the mechanism system, and enhancing flowrate measurement. A second test platform was also built for functionality demonstration.

Currently, the ventilator’s test platform is operational, allowing for thorough testing and performance improvements. This agile approach has reestablished team cohesion and reduced workload, enhancing project efficiency.

Actuator with the Motor

Motor’s New Design in Prototype 2

ROBO2's Latest Design

ROBO2's Latest Prototype

Module evolution

From complicated design to illustrating modular and user-friendly modules.

Prototype Variation

Our ROBO2 Ventilator project is aimed at creating a smart, high-performance, and low-cost ventilator. It addresses the specific challenges faced in low and middle-income countries daily as well as in developed countries during health emergencies. Through careful testing, collaboration, and adherence to international quality standards, the project strives to develop a reliable and accessible medical device with the potential to benefit global health in both normal times and pandemics.

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