Smelling the Future

So after class today I realized that this semester is coming to a end rather quickly. Therefore I am going to be pumping out blog posts like a champ.

To get a topic for this post I chose to google “robot” and see what interesting news article came up. I found this great article ( about how humans developed a sense of smell for robots. They called it the e-nose and it is designed off of the biology of how all animals smell. It even has a septum to separate the nostrils.

The next question is “if a robot can smell does it must have a sense of memory to relate these smells to certain emotions?” The answer is completely simple for this…No it cannot. The e-nose is programmed to detect faint chemical signals that are present in the air. From the concentration in each nostril the robot can then detect what and where the smell is coming from.

Think for a second about the possibilities for this invention.  The article goes into how this can be used for search and rescue missions. You can definitely save a person’s life by being able to smell blood, sweat and gas leaks.  The articles disclaimer is that the robot’s smell is not as powerful as that of a dog but it robots can go into places that may be harmful for animals to travel.

Being able to provide a robot with one of the fundamental senses of humans is quite revolutionizing. Engineers have already have robots sense touch, sight and even the sense of taste. ( Found in this ScienceDaily article, scientists have made a robotic tongue that is even more sensitive to taste than humans are.  Currently they are using the tongue  to tell if the beer is made correctly. The tongue looks for the right levels of ethanol in the beer and detects any other bad tasting chemicals.

The implications with all of these senses, just in an economic standpoint, are crucial to consider. Firstly, you can have robots doing daily maintenance checks of sewers, landfills, and chemical plants to determine if there are methane leaks that could be harmful to the greater good. Second, robots will soon be replacing taste testers by developing higher quality tongues to detect what humans find unappealing in food. Although this replaces many jobs around the world, it also keeps humans out of harm’s way. Using the e-nose to send robots into warzones to detect bombs and other hazardous weapons will greatly reduce risk for any soldier near or far away. Drones are doing the same thing for our soldiers but that is a whole other topic  because of the recent controversies involved.

All in all these robots are benefitting our way of life so that we can either be saved by the smell of our sweat or just giving us the highest quality beer to drink on a nice Saturday evening. Innovations of these technologies will start to evolve robots into more human like creatures that we will definitely interact with later.



  1. Great post I agree the summer has come and gone fast with little time to turn things in. Your blog was great I totally agree that both the e-nose and the robotic tounge sounds interesting too with all the things it can do like tasting beer. The e-nose sounds more useful due to the dangers of some environments. With robotics like this, it will increase quality , safety, and happiness. But your also right on how this would take people’s jobs.

  2. I would never have thought to develop a robot to smell, but the practical uses make sense. They could be sent around chemical plants as a constant check for leaks, or around houses with questionable gas lines, etc. While it would replace people’s jobs, I also feel that using these robots in dangerous situations for humans would be a smart decision and a good innovation in making human’s lives easier and healthier.

  3. Even after providing robots these senses., the real test will be providing them with the ability to replicate human thought. I don’t think that will ever be possible since human thought is so completely random. There is no algorithm that can be made to decide what to do in every situation since humans themselves learn from each situation as they do it. I don’t know if that will ever be able to be replicated in robots.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s