How this Vistara CIO and rescue pilot turned godsend for Covid patients

'When I saw the problem of the lack of ventilators or beds, I immediately thought something had to be done,' Ravinder Pal Singh said

How this Vistara CIO and rescue pilot turned godsend for Covid patients
Vistara CIO Ravinder Pal Singh and his devices. Image courtesy: Ravinder Pal Singh

“Don't just count deaths, save lives!” reads one of the posts by Ravinder Pal Singh, who is known for his work in the aviation sector and is now busy simplifying technology for humanity. Singh, who is popularly known as 'Ravi', has taken the fight with Covid-19 head-on by building advanced respiratory systems, which can be manufactured locally even in small towns. These respirators can be used as ventilators and/or oxygen concentrators.

The ideation for this innovation came when as a frontline worker he came face-to-face with the health crisis created by the pandemic. Ravi, who is currently in Gurugram, told Plane Vanilla that as a Red Cross pilot, he saw the global health crisis very closely. “One problem that was common in all the countries was a scarcity of ventilators. Most deaths were happening while waiting for doctors or ventilators. When I came to India, I saw the same scene. But, everyone was talking about industrial ventilators and their prices were a bizarre Rs 25-35 lakh per unit.”

It was then that Ravi wondered how difficult it could be to build a ventilator. “I've never understood why ventilators are complex. Why do you require an engineering degree to design and produce and manufacture a ventilator? We have built two different working ventilators, which have a few commonalities such as inlet and outlet piping. The first ventilator I built cost me roughly Rs 35-38,000. I got it patented and then decided to share the knowledge with everyone.”

Explaining the making of respiratory devices, Ravi said the first version is the simplest and is an extremely portable ventilator, one which is intuitive, can be used by anyone and fundamentally takes air from the atmosphere, extracts oxygen, controls pressure and pushes the output to the lungs. The second one is an advanced version of this ventilator.

“Our advanced version ventilator is on a similar design platform, which converges artificial intelligence with electrical, mechanical, electronic and microcontroller (engineering) with the capability to supply 100% oxygen. It has self-calibration capabilities. It has a machine-learning algorithm to adjust the output flow according to the need,” he explained.

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The basic ventilator can be created in a few hours while the advanced version can be built in a day.

“People are dying. Governments are doing everything they can. As a frontline worker, when I saw the problem of the lack of ventilators or beds, I immediately thought something had to be done. Sometimes death is a huge inspiration. We, as children of the universe, have to come together and help each other. This is a now-or-never situation,” he added.

Vistara CIO Ravinder Pal Singh with his innovation. Image courtesy: Ravinder Pal Singh

Ravi is now working with people living in rural areas and more than 200 people have self-created his ventilator. Parts are easily available and with basic knowledge, these devices can be made and lives can be saved.

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Ravi is one of the world’s most sought after experts in the field of artificial intelligence, innovation and robotics. This award-winning technologist is also a rescue pilot and angel investor with several patents.

He is a Harvard alumnus and an award-winning engineer with over several a hundred global recognitions and patents.

Ravi is currently employed as the Chief Innovation and Information officer at Tata Singapore Airlines (Vistara). He is an advisor on the boards of nine enterprises, where incubation and differentiation are core necessities and challenges. He sits on the advisory council of three global research firms, where he contributes to predicting practical future automation use cases and respective technologies.