Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes.
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Smell Detector

Courtesy of RCMP

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Is the bathroom still smelly? Odorbot to the rescue!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Ever dream of having a day when smelling unpleasant odors is a distant memory? Kenshi Hayashi and colleagues at Kyushu University share this dream. And they’re working on a solution: Meet Odorbot, the scent seeking robot!

The researchers made Odorbot on a 3-D printer and gave it wheels to move around. When Odorbot moves through a smell, it sniffs it up, sending it to its nose. 

Odorbot’s “nose” is made up of specks of gold that odor molecules stick to. It “smells” by shooting a laser at the gold specks. The more odor molecules, the more laser signal is measured.

The researchers smeared odors on the ground and sent Odorbot wheeling around. Could Odorbot decipher a smelly message? Yes! It was able to distinguish between strips of odors that were only four centimeters apart.

Odorbot could replace the drug-sniffing dogs in airport security or serve as an office smell detector. What’s that funky smell coming from the microwave? The Odorbot nose knows!

Thank you, Odorbot! And, meet your new best friend: Febreze bot!