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Better sense than dogs? US Navy seeks to use the American grasshopper to detect bombs

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A team of scientists studied the capabilities of locust (Schistocerca americana) when detecting explosives and has discovered that these insects outperform dogs because they are cheap and do not need to be trained.

Scientists say that locust antennas are so sensitive that they can easily distinguish odors from different types of explosives and do not rule out that in the future modified swarms of these sniffing insects will be created to detect bombs.

The study carried out by a team of scientists at Washington University in St. Louis suggests that it is possible to create an advanced biorobot system based on locust antennas and brains to detect bombs. The research is funded by the US Navy, with an investment of more than $ 1.1 million, since they consider it possible to create a bomb tracker with these characteristics.

“What we did not know was, again, something like a TNT and DNT, which has no meaning to the insects, you would not expect them to have sensors for that,” Raman – Biomedical engineering professor at Raman Lab said. “But it turns out … the insects do have sensors for them and very exquisite sensors … because they can pick up some of these odors at extremely low concentrations — of parts per billion and below.”

The Study confirms that locust with their antennas can detect different explosives in incredibly low concentrations and in a fraction of seconds they can locate them.

According to the scientists, the American locust used for this study better detects bombs when operating in a swarm. In a group of seven insects, about 80% gave accurate results, while when locusts operated alone the effectiveness figure dropped to 60%.

Researchers point out that a lobster antenna contains 50,000 neurons, this circumstance allows it to overcome other similar systems developed by engineers.

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