Robot with insect whiskers learns to recognize smells

(ORDO NEWS) — Israeli scientists have connected a locust antenna to a machine equipped with artificial intelligence. Such a system is able to distinguish the most subtle odors and move on wheels to find their source.

Modern robots make good use of video cameras, pressure sensors, lidars and other tools for orientation in the world around them.

However, the perception of volatile substances is still a considerable difficulty for them.

The maximum that can be done for this is to install gas analyzers on board, bulky and capricious. Meanwhile, such an ability would be extremely useful.

It would open up a new channel for machines to perceive the world around them, would allow them to better monitor, diagnose diseases, search for people under rubble or leaks in industrial production.

All this stimulates the development of more compact instruments for the analysis of odors – ” electronic noses “.

However, Israeli scientists took an alternative route and decided to use detectors borrowed from nature.

Antennae (antennae) of arthropods are sensory organs that in different species may be responsible for vision, hearing, touch, but most often involved in the work of smell.

In locusts, their sensitivity is so great that scientists are inspired by them when developing explosive detectors.

Maoz Ben and his colleagues at Tel Aviv University used locust antennas directly by removing one antenna from the insect and connecting it to the electronic system of a wheeled robot.

The signal from the olfactory receptors of the antenna was transmitted to artificial intelligence, which was trained to recognize eight different smells, including scents of geranium, lemon and marzipan.

The system was able to reliably distinguish them all.

Moreover, additional experiments have shown that AI connected to the antennae can also detect more subtle smells – for example, recognizing different varieties of Scotch whiskey.

According to scientists, such a system is 10 thousand times more sensitive than the instruments used today.

The wheel platform allows the car not only to capture smells, but also to react to them.

Therefore, in the nearest plans of scientists – the development of algorithms, thanks to which the robot will be able to follow the desired aroma and find its source.

This will make it extremely useful for finding missing people, pipeline leaks, explosive devices, and a host of other practical tasks.

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