VW tests 3D printer ventilators as carmakers join coronavirus fight

Automakers say they will increase production of ventilators and other equipment that is in short supply. (Reuters)
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Updated 22 March 2020

VW tests 3D printer ventilators as carmakers join coronavirus fight

  • Volkswagen said it had assembled a task force
  • Volkswagen has 125 industrial 3D printers

FRANKFURT: German carmaker Volkswagen said it was joining other manufacturers around the world to explore using 3D printing to make hospital ventilators to combat the coronavirus.

Governments are enlisting automakers including Ford, General Motors, Ferrari and Nissan to ramp up production of ventilators and other equipment to treat the fast-spreading disease.

In a statement, Volkswagen said it had assembled a task force, was testing materials and checking supply chains to see how it can use 3D printing to help manufacture hospital ventilators and other life-saving equipment.

“Medical equipment is a new field for us. But as soon as we understand the requirements, and receive a blueprint, we can get started,” Volkswagen said, adding that prototype components had been printed and its Skoda arm was included in the project.

A spokesman said the Wolfsburg-based company, which has more than 125 industrial 3D printers, was in close contact with governments and other authorities.

General Motors said it was working with Ventec Life Systems to enable the medical device maker to leverage the US automaker’s logistics and expertise to build more ventilators.

“We are working closely with Ventec to rapidly scale up production of their critically important respiratory products to support our country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” GM CEO Mary Barra said.

Volkswagen’s sports car brand Porsche also said it wanted to help in relief efforts. “We are collecting ideas about what we could do in terms of humanitarian help,” Chief Executive Oliver Blume said.

Munich-based carmaker BMW said it too was ready to help. “The production of components using 3D printing technology is a possibility,” it said.

Sweden’s carmaker Volvo urged all governments to take the crisis seriously and limit movements.

“I think for the economy, we need to do something drastic, rather then trying half-hearted measures that drag on forever,” Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said.  

The auto industry’s chances of recovery depended on coordinated action, Samuelsson told Reuters.

“There is a big difference between countries. Some have curfews, with restaurants and schools closed. In other countries there are less drastic measures. I just think we need to synchronize that more.”


Chinese artificial intelligence company files $1.4 billion lawsuit against Apple

Updated 03 August 2020

Chinese artificial intelligence company files $1.4 billion lawsuit against Apple

  • Xiao-i argued that Apple’s voice-recognition technology Siri infringes on a patent that it applied for in 2004

SHANGHAI: Chinese artificial intelligence company Shanghai Zhizhen Intelligent Network Technology Co., also known as Xiao-i, has filed a lawsuit against Apple, alleging it has infringed on its patents.
The company is calling for $1.43 billion in damages and demands that Apple cease “manufacturing, using, promising to sell, selling, and importing” products that infringe on the patent, it said in a social media post.
Xiao-i argued that Apple’s voice-recognition technology Siri infringes on a patent that it applied for in 2004 and was granted in 2009.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment. Reuters was not immediately available to find a copy of the court filing.
The lawsuit marks the continuation of a row that has been ongoing for nearly a decade.
Shanghai Zhizhen first sued Apple for patent infringement in 2012 regarding its voice recognition technology. In July, China’s Supreme People’s court ruled that the patent was valid.