Feeds

Coke-snorting cop bots to replace sniffer dogs

Roboplod finds could count as evidence in court

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Sniffer dogs can get tired, but fibre-optic sniffer robots don't have the same problem. And they are just as good at detecting cocaine, says Tong Sun, a professor of sensor engineering at City University London.

Prof Sun and her team won a £140k grant on Tuesday to work on the coke-detecting robots that they foresee will reduce the number of sniffer dogs needed in places like airports. This is on top of a previous award of £550,000 for both the drug-detecting sensor project and project working on a sensor that can smell your fear... Sun won previous funding for work on sensors that detect the alarm pheromones released by humans when they are scared.

"Sniffer dogs are used in such situations, but they have a high cost of upkeep, can get tired and confused, and cannot act as evidence in court," said the grant-awarding body the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which is funding the university team's collaboration with the Home Office Scientific Development Branch and sensor-maker Smiths Detection.

Other sensor tech currently on the market cannot match the dogs:

The limitations of existing technologies include high levels of false alarms, low levels of sensitivity compared to sniffer dogs and high cost using disposable consumables.

The City team's breakthrough was to use the molecularly imprinting polymer (MIP) technique coupled with fluorescence signalling. The result is a portable, fibre-optic sensor that is sensitive but selective, producing fewer false alarms. The purpose of the new grant is to bring the sniffer tech to market. Professor Sun's team plan to have a prototype within a year that can be used for checking hard-to-reach places like shipping containers and cars.

The Register's own efforts at robotic animals have not yet attracted this level of public funding, though our in-house robotic sheep is capable of both moving and cutting grass. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
Vote now for LOHAN's stirring mission patch motto
Does the shed actually know no bounds, or what?
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Beancounters tell NASA it's too poor to fly planned mega-rocket
Space Launch System would need another $400m and a lot of time
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.