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article imageRobot bloodhound tracks down odors

By Tim Sandle     Jun 23, 2018 in Technology
A new robot, dubbed a 'bloodhound', has been developed to track down odors on the ground. Such a device will be useful for detecting and addressing chemical spillages.
The reference to a bloodhound is apt in the case of this robot. The hounds have a well-characterized ability to track different scents, especially odors from humans, across great distances (even days later, which helps with missing persons investigations). Taking this concept as machine, Kyushu University technologists have designed a robot which has the capability of quickly detect odors from multiple sources on the ground. This could be a chemical, or from a footprint. The robot also has the ability to interpret messages marked or projected onto the ground, by using odors as form of barcode.
The reported comes from the ingenuity of Japanese researchers Zhongyuan Yang, Fumihiro Sassa and Kenshi Haysashi. The trio set out to construct a robot that possessed a high-speed gas sensor which was capable of rapidly tracking down invisible odor sources at ground level.
The technology behind this is called localized surface plasmon resonance. Surface plasmons are coherent delocalized electron oscillations that exist at the interface between any two materials. The plasmon resonant frequency is highly sensitive to the refractive index of the environment; a change in refractive index results in a shift in the resonant frequency, which is ideal for sensing applications.
In the case of the new robot, the sensor measures changes in light absorption by gold nanoparticles upon exposure to a gas. In tests the researchers showed how the robot could identify the location of ethanol odor sources placed at different positions along the robot's path.
The research has been reported to the journal ACS Sensors, with the study titled "A Robot Equipped with a High-Speed LSPR Gas Sensor Module for Collecting Spatial Odor Information from On-Ground Invisible Odor Sources."
In further robotics news, scientists have devised an automated blood drawing and testing device. The machine can provide rapid results for blood tests, which will improve the workflow in hospitals and enable health care professionals to spend less time testing blood samples and thus more time treating patients.
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