Ford Is Turning the Airbags and Tech From Its Trucks Into Respirators to Fight COVID-19

ford respirator covid-19 prototype

The latest company to pivot into supporting COVID-19 frontline fighters is Ford.

The giant automaker is now working with 3M, one of the largest manufacturers of safety masks, to use the tech in the Ford F-150 and turn it into battery-powered respirators.

Another partnership with GE Healthcare will see Ford manufacturing ventilators, and a collaboration with Thermo Fisher Scientific is aiming to develop a COVID-19 test kit.

“In just three weeks, we’ve unleashed our world-class manufacturing, purchasing and design talent to get scrappy and start making personal protection equipment and help increase the availability and production of ventilators,” said Jim Baumbick, Ford’s vice-president, in a statement.

“Approximately 90 paid United Auto Workers volunteers will assemble [respirators] at Ford’s Vreeland facility near Flat Rock, MI, with the ability to make 100,000 or more,” said the company.

The respirator is based on the air blower in charge of the Ford F-150 ventilated seats and is built into a hood and face shield, with a HEPA filter system to provide filtered air for up to eight hours.

Of course, like most similar initiatives, this one still needs regulatory approval, but hopefully, it goes on the fast track.

Another Ford initiative is a partnership with Joyson Safety Systems to turn the fabric used for vehicle airbags into reusable medical gowns.

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