Sniffer Robot With Infotaxis Algorithms On The Hunt

Is it possible for a robot to follow a scent? Massimo Vergassola and his colleagues at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France think so. They have derived a new algorithm using a method they call "infotaxis" that is similar to the strategy employed by moths.

The simplest approach to locating the source of an odor is chemotaxis - moving in the direction of higher concentration. This doesn't work for large animals in turbulent air flows; the odor plume is not smoothly consistent from low concentration to higher concentration. A more sophisticated method is needed.

Locating the source of odor in a turbulent environment—a common behavior for living organisms—is nontrivial because of the random nature of mixing. Here we analyze the statistical physics aspects of the problem and propose an efficient strategy for olfactory search that can work in turbulent plumes. The algorithm combines the maximum likelihood inference of the source position with an active search. Our approach provides the theoretical basis for the design of olfactory robots...

Moths employ two distinct methods; "zigzagging" upwind when they have the scent, then "casting," which is moving crosswind to try to relocate the interrupted scent trail.

Robots could do the same thing, now that the math has been worked out.

Science fiction writers have long thought about robots with a sense of smell. In his classic 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury created the chilling mechanical hound that guarded the fire station:

The mechanical Hound slept but did not sleep, lived but did not live in its gently humming, gently vibrating, softly illuminated kennel...

Nights when things got dull, which was every night, the men slid down the brass poles, and set the ticking combinations of the olfactory system of the hound and let loose rats in the fire house area-way. Three seconds later the game was done...
(Read more about Ray Bradbury's mechanical hound)

Another attempt to visualize sniffer robots and assign them a practical task is found in the 1985 movie Runaway by Michael Crichton. In the film, detectives use a four-legged sniffer robot to find and identify trace compounds at a crime scene (see Crichton's sniffer robot from Runaway).

Robots are already in the testing stage who are able to detect odors and perform relevant actions. The RI-MAN health care robot has a smell-discernment capability, used to detect an incontinent patient. Other research includes the SPOT-NOSED nanobiosensors under development in the European Union.

Read more about sniffer robot software; download this earlier paper on Olfactory search.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/26/2007)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

Knightscope Robot Security Guards Ready
'A robot guard appeared, streaking toward them across the field.'- Philip K. Dick, 1955.

What Are Robots Thinking?
'Your clothes... give them to me.'- James Cameron, 1984.

Competing With Blue Collar Robots
'With the chronic worry of the unemployed, he... ran his eye down the Help Wanted - Robot column...'- Harry Harrison, 1956.

Robot Bartenders At Sea
'We've promised him a generous pension from the royalties on usuform barkeeps...'- Anthony Boucher, 1943.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Foodini 3D Printer
''...Food slot gave him flat reddish-brown bricks.'

Parrot Bebop Drone Pairs With Your Smartphone
'Over a radius of several miles Sonya's raytron apparatus could direct its flight [using] an image of all that the lens eye saw.'

SCRIBE Enables Distributed Genomically Encoded Memory
Genomic DNA for analog, rewritable, and flexible memory.

Artisanal 3D Printing By Martha Stewart
'Nanofax AG offers a technology that digitally reproduces objects, physically, at a distance.'

Knightscope Robot Security Guards Ready
'A robot guard appeared, streaking toward them across the field.'

Bullet-Proof Kevlar Woven Electronics
'Check the watch imprinted on his sleeve...'

USAF 'BATMAN' Wrist Display
'The tiny screen in the bracelet's center...'

CoBots - Collaborative Robots Ask Humans For Help
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify... You give it a good look.'

Shape-Shifting Carbon Fiber
'Its lines wavered, flowed, and then painfully reformed.'

'Digital Drugs' (Like Herbert's Semuta?) Dismays Saudis
'The effect (described as timeless, sustained ecstasy) is elicited by certain atonal vibrations...'

Mind Control Of Gene Expression In Mice
'We used your thought images almost entirely...'

Nixie Wrist-Ready Flying Selfie-Cam Drone
'He set his camera to follow him...'

DARPA Wants Airborne Launch Facility For Drones
This was tried with recon craft in WWII.

Lit Motors Self-Balancing Motorcycle
'He had never ridden any motorized device that lacked onboard steering and balance systems...'

Neuromorphic Brain-Chip Takes Flight
'Cultured brains on a slab.'

What Are Robots Thinking?
'Your clothes... give them to me.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.