Baby incubators for moving premature babies are heavy, cumbersome devices, that require an external electricity supply and often dedicated vehicles to carry them as well.
The Babypod was initially developed by AHT as a lightweight and more practical alternative. Williams (of Formula One) was then called in to develop a new, more advanced design.
The result is a device that weighs just 9.1kg (20lb) – about the same as three bricks – takes up relatively little space, and that can withstand an impact of up to 20G (in case the ambulance carrying it is involved in an accident, for example).
To begin with, it is being used by the Children’s Acute Transport Service (CATS) of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, though the plan is to market it much more widely.
CATS operational manager Eithne Polke says the service is delighted with the new pod, which costs £5,000 per unit.
Fast and effective transportation can save lives in emergency situations, she says, and the pod “allows for greater flexibility and manoeuvrability when moving critically ill infants “.
According to Clare Williams, deputy principal of the F1 team, there’s plenty of room for F1 know-how to be exploited in this way.
“Lightweight materials, composites, aerodynamics… all of these technologies can be so easily applied to other industries, other sectors, other project and products,” she says, “in order invariably to make them better, but most importantly – sometimes safer.
Regular mobile incubators tend to weight about 55-100 pounds.
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