The reason why they are basing their design on a locust is because locusts have a fine-tuned sense of smell and can identify odors through overlapping scents, meaning that even if the smell was masked with other smells, locusts should be able to detect it. So how will they take advantage of this keen sense of smell?
They will be placing electronic sensors on the insects to monitor their brain activity as they move through their environments, and from there they will attempt to decipher the different scents and what they mean. The researchers will also be placing a heat-generating “tattoo” that will effectively allow them to control the locusts to steer them in the direction that they want.
As to why they don’t just rely on dogs, researcher Baranidharan Raman told The Source, “The canine olfactory system still remains the state-of-the-art sensing system for many engineering applications, including homeland security and medical diagnosis. However, the difficulty and the time necessary to train and condition these animals, combined with lack of robust decoding procedures to extract the relevant chemical sending information from the biological systems, pose a significant challenge for wider application.”
The researchers are hoping to finish a prototype for their design later this year.
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