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Although state-of-the-art treatments of respiratory failure clearly have made some progress in terms of survival in patients suffering from severe respiratory system disorders, such as acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), they failed to significantly improve the quality of life in patients with acute or chronic lung failure, including severe acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or ARDS as well. Limitations of standard treatment modalities, which largely rely on conventional mechanical ventilation, emphasize the urgent, unmet clinical need for developing novel (bio)artificial respiratory assist devices that provide extracorporeal gas exchange with a focus on direct extracorporeal CO2 removal from the blood. In this review, we discuss some of the novel concepts and critical prerequisites for such respiratory lung assist devices that can be used with an adequate safety profile, in the intensive care setting, as well as for long-term domiciliary therapy in patients with chronic ventilatory failure. Specifically, we describe some of the pivotal steps, such as device miniaturization, passivation of the blood-contacting surfaces by chemical surface modifications, or endothelial cell seeding, all of which are required for converting current lung assist devices into ambulatory lung assist device for long-term use in critically ill patients. Finally, we also discuss some of the risks and challenges for the long-term use of ambulatory miniaturized bioartificial lungs.