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 ")

Delightful Plen2 Mirror Robot - The Anti-Terminator
The anti-Terminator.

Petman Robot Pushes Itself To The Limit
'There was the butler robot, hard at work, his copper face expressionless...'- Frederik Pohl, 1954.

UR3 Robot At Work On Copies Of Itself
'I don't mean that you should construct this ultra-microrobot with your own fingers, of course...'- Raymond Z. Gallun, 1937.

Bridge-MINDER Repair Robot
'The repair robots had started out on their rounds...'- Stanislaw Lem, 1954.

 

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

XM82 Personal Flamethrower Now In Development
'Skeletons in tatters. Burned by a flesh gun'

Graphene Cytobot - Cyborg Bacterial Spores May Help Astronauts
'[It] had not yet objected to being made over into a portion of an electronic system... '

Delightful Plen2 Mirror Robot - The Anti-Terminator
Time for fun, Will Robinson!

LiquiGlide Will Be Everywhere
'They poured the remnants of eggs out of their frictionless cups...'

US Customs Now Doing Facial Recognition At DC Airport
Are you who you say you are?

How Many Systems In That Galactic Empire Now?
'An Empire to twenty million stellar systems...'

Petman Robot Pushes Itself To The Limit
'There was the butler robot, hard at work, his copper face expressionless...'

Coleus LED 'Skylight' Dispenses Natural Sunlight Indoors
'How do they work it so that the sky is visible at every level of the city?'

UR3 Robot At Work On Copies Of Itself
'I don't mean that you should construct this ultra-microrobot with your own fingers, of course...'

3D Printing 'Terminator T-1000-Style'
Not quite 'a mimetic polyalloy...'

Bridge-MINDER Repair Robot
'The repair robots had started out on their rounds...'

Super Ball Bot Tensegrity Robot For Solar System Exploration
'Each leg in turn acted as a pivot around which the creature whirled its body...'

Norlin Shoe Drone Robot UAV In-Store Delivery Thing
'Robot-salesmen were everywhere, gesturing, pleading, shrilling.'

iSkin On-Body Touch Sensors
'Three rows of four colored dots appeared on the heel of my left hand.'

Britain To Build Spaceport, First In Europe
'The space-ports at the three great cities...'

MC10 Electronics Skin Stickers
'Every diaper... a fine copper wire…'

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.