The former Fiat engineer aims to make a break at COVID

Fifty years ago, he designed a braking system that would help reduce fatal car accidents. Now Mario Palazzetti has invented a device that he thinks can stop the spread of COVID-19.

The retired Fiat Research Center engineer called Mr. ABS for the anti-lock braking system he built, which is now standard on all motor vehicles.

At age 84, he created a gadget about the size of an electric kettle that creates local air currents intended to stop the circulation of droplets that are expelled when people speak - possibly spreading the COVID-19 infection interruption.

He is now working with a team at the Polytechnic di Torino (University of Turin) to properly manufacture and test the product.

"I can not tell you many technical details yet because we are still in the patent stage," said Marco Simonetti, professor of energy at the polytechnic.

"The concept is very simple, the ambition is not just to kill the virus, but to safely reduce the distance (between people)," he said.

Beestopers were originally designed to keep two people together, but it could work for smaller groups, Canetti said.

“We focused on talking because we need a more aggressive system with sneezing,” he said.

The Polytechnic team hopes to have a sample by the end of July and go to the market by the end of the summer.

Mr. ABS, who retired in 1997, is behind other inventions, including the TOTEM (Total Energy Module), a small heat and power generator, and an air conditioning system called Aircare, which also regains power.

“Thoughts come to me, not what I think,” he said. "My regret is that a lot of ideas are asking me to come to light, but it's really hard."

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