An all-female Afghan Robotics Team used an MIT design to create a lightweight and low-cost ventilator, which could roll out to local hospitals to aid patients during the pandemic. The machine — made up of Toyota Corolla parts — costs about $700 to produce, lower than the ~$20k price tag of traditional ventilators. The team of young women began developing the ventilator in March and received help from Harvard University experts.
- Led by captain Somaya Faruqi, the team has at least seven members who, as of May, were aged 15-17.
- Team founder and Afghan tech entrepreneur Roya Mahboob is CEO of the Afghan Citadel Software Company and CEO of the Digital Citizen Fund, which offers classes for girls in STEM and robotics. In 2013, Time magazine listed her as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.
- In 2017, the Afghan Robotics Team was denied travel visas to the U.S. to participate in an international robotics competition, which the State Department reversed to allow them to compete.
- The ventilator needs further testing before it can be rolled out to Afghan hospitals. The goal is to share the design with the World Health Organization.