Smellicopter: Scientists Develop Tiny Drone that Uses Moth Antenna to Locate Smells [VIDEO]

0
124

Meet the Smellicopter.  Smellicopter is a tiny drone developed by scientists at the University of Washington, capable of detecting smells like gas leaks, explosives, or even the survivors of a natural disaster.  This amazing, obstacle avoiding UAV doesn’t use a man-made sensor to smell: it uses a moth antenna to navigate towards an odor.

A research paper published in  IOP Science describes Smellicopter as “A bio-hybrid odor-guided autonomous palm-sized air vehicle.”  The advantages to such a vehicle are clear: the tiny drone can travel in places that humans cannot or should not: the rubble of buildings after a natural disaster; zones where chemical leaks or spills may have occurred; or conflict zones that may contain chemical or explosive weapons.

The truly unique aspect of this amazing little drone is the use of a moth antenna: tiny, delicate, and amazingly sensitive.

Caption: A team led by the University of Washington has developed Smellicopter: an autonomous drone that uses a live antenna from a moth to navigate toward smells. By adding tiny wires into either end of the antenna (the arc being attached here), the researchers were able to connect it to a circuit and record its responses to a puff of a floral scent. Credit: Mark Stone/University of Washington

“Nature really blows our human-made odor sensors out of the water,” said lead author Melanie Anderson, a UW doctoral student in mechanical engineering. “By using an actual moth antenna with Smellicopter, we’re able to get the best of both worlds: the sensitivity of a biological organism on a robotic platform where we can control its motion.”

Caption: A team led by the University of Washington has developed Smellicopter: an autonomous drone that uses a live antenna from a moth to navigate toward smells. Smellicopter can also sense and avoid obstacles as it travels through the air. Shown here is a hawkmoth in front of the Smellicopter.
Credit: Mark Stone/University of Washington

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here