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Today’s Video of the Day (see video by clicking reference below) from the University of Washington features the “smellicopter,” an autonomous drone that can detect and follow scents.

The robots will ultimately be used to explore unstable structures after a natural disaster or to search a region with unexploded devices.

The drone uses a live antenna from a moth to navigate toward smells, dodging obstacles as it travels through the air.

“Nature really blows our human-made odor sensors out of the water,” said study lead author Melanie Anderson. “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.”

The moth uses its antennae to sense chemicals, find food, or navigate toward potential mates.

“Cells in a moth antenna amplify chemical signals,” said study co-author Professor Thomas Daniel. “The moths do it really efficiently – one scent molecule can trigger lots of cellular responses, and that’s the trick. This process is super efficient, specific and fast.”

Video Credit: University of Washington 

Source: Autonomous drone can detect and follow scents • Earth.com

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