Technology is all good and well, but mother nature is the best inventor of all. For that reason, engineers know the easiest way to success is just to rip off designs from the natural world. It’s essentially industry-approved cheating.
Wherever you live, you’re probably used to seeing security personnel in the company of friendly-looking sniffer dogs. This is because even the best man-made sensor has been no match for the canine nose. Until now.
We’re not that far away from seeing the world’s first robo-dog put to use by customs as an American company replicates the nose of a labrador to achieve unprecedented sensitivity.
Matthew Staymates of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) claims that a 3D-printed model of a dog’s nose attached to a modified commercial sensor has improved sensitivity to contraband – such as narcotics and explosives – by up to eighteen times!
This success is due in part to the shape of the nose but also to the fact that a dog will inhale and exhale up to five times a second rather than sustaining a constant suction like man-made sensors.
Believe it or not, the action of breathing out actually causes scents to be drawn towards the snuffling animal.
Staymates believes that the new dog-inspired sniffing sensor will revolutionise the industry and could also be used to detect pathogens, maybe even cancer.