A new technological development by Tel Aviv University has made it possible for a robot to smell using a biological sensor. The sensor sends electrical signals as a response to the presence of a nearby odor, which the robot can detect and interpret.

In this new study, the researchers successfully connected the biological sensor to an electronic system and using a machine learning algorithm, were able to identify odors with a level of sensitivity 10,000 times higher than that of a commonly used electronic device. The researchers believe that in light of the success of their research, this technology may also be used in the future to identify explosives, drugs, diseases, and more.

The biological and technological breakthrough was led by doctoral student Neta Shvil of Tel Aviv University’s Sagol School of Neuroscience, Dr. Ben Maoz of the Fleischman Faculty of Engineering and the Sagol School of Neuroscience, and Prof. Yossi Yovel and Prof. Amir Ayali of the School of Zoology and the Sagol School of Neuroscience. The results of the study were published in the prestigious journal Biosensor and Bioelectronics.

Dr. Maoz and Prof. Ayali explain: “Man-made technologies still can’t compete with millions of years of evolution. One area in which we particularly lag behind the animal world is that of smell perception. An example of this can be found at the airport where we go through a magnetometer that costs millions of dollars and can detect if we are carrying any metal devices. But when they want to check if a passenger is smuggling drugs, they bring in a dog to sniff him. In the animal world, insects excel at receiving and processing sensory signals. A mosquito, for example, can detect a 0.01 percent difference in the level of carbon dioxide in the air. Today, we are far from producing sensors whose capabilities come close to those of insects.”... Read More: Arutz-7