India Developing e-dog to Sniff out Explosives

Date:   Monday , February 01, 2010

Indian scientists are developing an electronic device that will sniff out explosives like RDX, which cannot be detected by the existing security equipments. “A prototype of the e-device is under development to smell explosives from a distance by a sensor coated with nano materials,” says V. Ramgopal Rao, Professor of Indian Institute of Technology - Mumbai, speaking on the sidelines of the Indian Science Congress.

The government has entrusted the electrical engineering department of the IIT with developing the high-tech device in collaboration with the High Energy Materials Research Lab of the state-run Defence Research and Development Organization at Chandigarh and the Madras Atomic Power Station at Kalpakkam near Chennai.

To enhance security and check the use of improvised explosive devices (IED) by terrorists and other criminal elements, Rao says that the device with nano sensors could be installed at airports, railway stations, bus stands, and other vital installations to detect them in solid, liquid, or vapor form, and seize them before they are detonated.

“The device with an electronic nose will be able to sniff the presence of IED or RDX in any of the three forms in the same way as trained canines do. As training dogs in multitudes and deploying them at many places is a daunting task, an ‘electronic dog’ is a good alternative,” Rao says.

The Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore has also been roped in to develop the portable e-device or e-dog, with a seed funding of $25 million from the government. The e-device was demonstrated at a review meeting of the pilot project in Mumbai recently, where explosives were detected in vapor form when pure nitrogen from its nano materials was released.