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Electronic Nose Could Aid in Rescue Missions

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Artist's conception of an electronic nose.

A new artificial intelligence-based devices uses algorithms that facilitate the discrimination of odor to follow the path of certain specific aromas.


Blanca Lorena Villarreal, while doing her postgraduate research at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, developed an artificial intelligence-based (AI) device that enables multiple robotic platforms to follow the path of certain odors.

Lorena Villarreal is developing algorithms that facilitate the discrimination of odor, which would aid robots in the decision-making process.

The device's olfactory system is based on AI algorithms that focus on detecting alcohol, but the system and algorithms can be adapted to recognize other odors and toxic gases and elements. "We note that, biologically, animals perceive the direction of an odor using two characteristics: it comes at different concentrations to the nostrils, and, because it is appreciated with a time difference," Lorena Villarreal says. "These two factors can identify from which a certain aroma comes."

Chemical sensors send data by radio to a computer for real-time analysis to determine the origin and direction of the aroma. Lorena Villarreal says the technology takes only one cycle to detect a change of direction in the path of smell, which enables the robot to perform tracking faster.

She thinks the system could be used in the aftermath of a natural disaster. "In rescue missions it might recognize blood, sweat, or human urine," Lorena Villarreal says.

From AlphaGalileo
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