GREENVILLE, TX, April 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ - As the battle against COVID-19 continues, the safety of our healthcare workers and first responders becomes ever more paramount as does the demand for adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Proud to answer the call, VEX Robotics and the robotics community has joined forces with the NASA Robotics Alliance Project to engineer, manufacture and donate RobotShields (face shields) and Ear Savers throughout Greenville, the Dallas-Fort Worth area and beyond.
With fellow Texans in mind, mentors and students from the Robonauts robotics team, located in Houston, worked to create an original concept, design, and prototype of a face shield. Utilizing the robotics community, the group explored many different options and quickly settled on a polycarbonate face shield as the most viable option. VEX engineers helped the group take the final step from prototype to a design for manufacturability and mass production.
To make the project a reality, VEX Robotics repurposed their Greenville, Texas manufacturing facility to mass produce the RobotShields. Although it started slow, maximum production capacity is currently 250 per hour allowing for thousands a day which can make a real impact. Dr. Leah Madsen of Baylor Scott and White Primary Care Associates, Greenville, Texas commented, "I cannot tell you how much we all love the RobotShields. They protect us, and we feel great wearing them. Their design is lightweight, and clear so we don't feel like we're looking through water. Our staff can even wear their glasses. They're exactly what we've needed!" The RobotShields are compatible with autoclave sterilization for safe reusability and provide full-face coverage, ample movement, adjustability, and the ability to be worn with additional PPE products.
VEX manufacturing is also producing an open-sourced version of Ear Savers. Ear savers resemble a comb-like structure with hoops used to loop the straps of face masks relieving the discomfort and pressure on the ears. Current production capacity is 150 every 6 hours. Such PPE have been proven to bring comfort and security to healthcare providers throughout their long shifts and weeks. When asked how the donated Ear Savers have impacted her daily routines, Samantha Walsh PT, DPT, emphasized, "spending 12+ hours with a mask on is no joke and causes headaches and sores around your ears, my colleagues and I really appreciated these to help survive our shifts!"
Beginning in April, VEX Robotics has donated RobotShields and Ear Savers to medical staff at Parkland Hospital in Dallas and at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort-Worth. Further state support includes Dallas Fire Stations, Texas Health Physicians Group, Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital, University Texas Medical Branch, Houston Physicians Hospital, and Baylor University Medical Center.
The local Hunt Regional Healthcare and 911 systems as well as the County Fire Departments have also received new PPE from VEX Robotics. The effort to reach those on the front line has also expanded outside the state. Some of the pieces will be sent to American Medal Response EMS teams and travelling nurses in New York who are at the epicenter of the nation's outbreak. Other out of state recipients include Morristown Medical Center, Miami Valley Hospital, WSTF Fire Dept., Children's Hospital of Minneapolis, and Ketcham Memorial Center.
"For VEX, the hope now is to empower innovators everywhere to use their skills to help others during this time," says Tony Norman, President and CEO of VEX Robotics. "We have experienced firsthand how the power of community, collaboration, and ingenuity can change lives." Through social media, VEX is encouraging young minds to join the #RoboticsSavesLives movement by mobilizing these values and common goals to stop the spread of COVID-19. From this campaign, it encourages people to share stories that show how the robotics community can come together for the community at large.
SOURCE VEX Robotics