New Technology Mimicks Dogs’ Abilities to Detect Explosives

By mimicking how dogs use their smelling abilities, a team of government and university researchers have demonstrated “active sniffing” as a means to improve the performance of current technologies that rely on continuous suction to detect trace amounts of explosives and other contraband.

Matthew Staymates, a mechanical engineer and fluid dynamicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of the US Department of Commerce: “The dog is an active aerodynamic sampling system that literally reaches out and grabs odorants. It uses fluid dynamics and entrainment to increase its aerodynamic reach to sample vapors at increasingly large distances. Applying this bio-inspired design principle could lead to significantly improved vapor samplers for detecting explosives, narcotics, pathogens—even cancer.”

According to NIST’s site, the researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fitted a dog-nose-inspired adapter to the front end of an explosive detector. Adding the artificial dog nose improved detection by up to 18 times.

The team’s first set of experiments compared the air-sampling performance of their “actively sniffing” artificial dog nose with that of trace-detection devices that rely on continuous suction. The head-to-head comparison with an inhalation system found that sampling efficiency with the sniffing artificial dog nose was four times better than the vapor source. “Their incredible air-sampling efficiency is one reason why the dog is such an amazing chemical sampler,” Staymates said. “It’s just a piece of the puzzle. There’s lots more to be learned and to emulate as we work to improve the sensitivity, accuracy and speed of trace-detection technology.”

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Article courtesy : iHLSIsrael Homeland Security


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