Duke University researchers develop robotic system that sniffs ethanol leaks

April 22, 2019 |

In North Carolina, engineers at Duke University are developing a smart robotic system for sniffing out pollution hotspots and sources of toxic leaks. Their approach enables a robot to incorporate complex calculations of airflows in confined spaces made on the fly, rather than simply guide the robot to ‘follow its nose’.

Their approach combines physics-based models of the source identification problem with path planning algorithms for robotics in a feedback loop. The robots take measurements of contaminant concentrations in the environment and then use these measurements to incrementally calculate where the chemicals are actually coming from.

The robot takes a concentration measurement, fuses it with previous measurements, and solves a challenging optimization problem to estimate where the source is. It then figures out the most useful location to take its next measurement and repeats the process until the source is found.

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Category: Research

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