Raspberry Pi has said it plans to step up production of its Zero computer boards to help power much-needed ventilators.
According to Tom’s Hardware, interest in the $5 (around R90) computer has peaked as it is a cheap way to power much of the remote working occurring globally during this pandemic.
Raspberry Pi can produce these computers quickly to power the ventilators keeping people suffering from COVID-19 alive.
“One of the main challenges with rapidly scaling manufacture of products like this is that you may be able to surge production of the air-handling elements, but you still need to provide the control element: often the components you need are on 20-week lead times and (hopefully) we’ll be out of the other side of this pandemic by then,” Eben Upton, CEO and Founder of Raspberry Pi, told Tom’s Hardware.
“Raspberry Pi ‘builds to stock’ rather than ‘building to order,’ so we generally have products either on-hand or in the pipeline with short lead times.”
Despite being the least powerful computer in the company’s line-up, the Pi Zero offers affordability at the required power for ventilators.
“I believe the interest in Zero is mostly down to it offering enough compute for the relatively modest requirements of a ventilator (potentially control air-handling components at fairly low frequency, handle a simple user interface),” Upton said.
“Although I know some of the approaches out there (not sure if we’re engaged with any of these) aim to scale production of the sort of lightweight ventilator they use in ambulances, so size may also be a factor.”
According to the BBC, two hospitals in Columbia are already planning to test Pi powered ventilators.