Could understanding smell lead to odor-detecting robots? Thatâ€™s what a multi-university research team is hoping to accomplish. Study leader Lucia Jacobs of the University of California, Berkeley explains.
"Our goal is to identify the common algorithm that all these animals are using to find odors. If we can do that, then we can use that to build robotic devices that can find odors. And then that will finally be able to replace dogs and other mammals â€“ we use pigs to find truffles, we use giant Gambian rats to find land mines in Africa. So just providing the science behind that, thatâ€™s got to be valuable."
Jacobs and her team, were awarded a National Science Foundation grant to identify the mechanisms behind odor navigation. They will compare the behavioral and cognitive differences of a variety of animals during odor navigation, including humans, dogs, cockroaches, and slugs.
"So what we are hoping to do is to find the secret that we can give to engineers who can then build a robot who could do that."
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