AI Computer Chip ‘Smells’ Danger, Could Substitute Sniffer Dogs


This AI computer chip can smell dangerous chemicals, and could one-day substitute sniffer dogs.

Computer chips using AI might kick sniffer dogs out of work — at least in the zone of smelling dangerous chemicals in explosives, drugs, and other substances — according to a new research published in the journal Nature.

AI computer chip ‘smells’ the world

Researchers for Cornell University and Intel created a “neuromorphic” chip called Loihi that allegedly makes computers think like biological brains, Daily Mail reported.

The researchers made the circuit on the chip, mirroring organic circuits discovered in the olfactory bulbs of a dog’s brain, which is how they treat their sense of smell.

The Loihi chip can find a specific odor on the first try and even distinguish other, background smells, said Intel.

The chip can even identify smells humans release when sick with a disease — which differs depending on the illness — and smells related to environmental gases and drugs.

Computer chips out-sniffing sniffer dogs

The secret to sniffer dogs isn’t their olfactory system alone, but their remarkable ability to remember — this is why they’re trained. Likewise, the artificial intelligence of the chip is trained to recognize disparate smells and remember, so that next time, it recognizes.

The chip treats information just like mammal brains by using electrical signals to treat smells. When a person smells something, the air molecules come into contact with nasal receptors that forward signals to the olfactory bulb in the brain.

Afterwards, the brain translates the signals to recognize which smell it’s experiencing, based on memories of earlier experiences with the particular smell.

“We are developing neural algorithms on Loihi that imitate what happens in your brain when you smell something,” said Senior Research Expert in Intel’s Neuromorphic Computing Lab, Nabil Imam.

Imam added that the work “shows Loihi’s potential to give important sensing abilities that could help many industries.”

Till now, the researchers have trained it on ten noxious smells, including methane, ammonia and acetone. It can be set up on robots in airports to help identify harmful objects, or combined with sensors in power plants or hospitals to identify dangerous gases.

Similar biotechnology has seen application in grasshoppers lately outfitted with computer chips to sniff-out bombs. Though, this adversely affects their lifespan, regulating their use.

However, sniffer dogs might one day be out of a job, the circuits using AI to imitate the process of smell brings us one step nearer to reconstructing the human sensorium in artificial intelligence.

Leave a reply