Bomb sniffing is a job that is best left to the cute and cuddly kind thanks to their heightened sense of smell.
But aircraft manufacturer Airbus now has plans to let the canines take a break (sniffing can be a tough job) and employ these jellyfish-like sensors that can sniff out bombs at airport screening tunnels.
The odd-looking sensors are made by Koniku, a startup based in Silicon Valley. These devices basically smell the air and tell you what it’s smelling. If you are wondering how that’s possible without human intervention, well, there is a bit of us involved in the smelling process.
Founder Oshiorenoya Agabi told Financial Times (paywall) that the startup basically takes biological cells – brain cells – and genetically modifies them to have olfactory receptors; you know, the things that help hoomans smell. In short, they basically merge silicon chips with living biological cells, which help with sniffing things out.
Koniku and Airbus have been working on the sniffing systems since 2017, and it is only this year that the technology will finally go through a proper test on site at airports. But it does not end there. Koniku claims that such systems can be used for security as well in the sense that they can be used to detect biological hazards and viruses also. Indeed, this hints that there is a good chance that these artificial sniffers could work well for cases like the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.