Feeds

Coke-snorting cop bots to replace sniffer dogs

Roboplod finds could count as evidence in court

Top three mobile application threats

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. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.