Airbus’s plan to sniff out Explosives

May 6th, 2020
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Airbus, in partnership with a Biotech startup, is working to develop a new innovative way to keep us safe in flight. The living cells, combined with microprocessors, will work as defence technology to sniff out explosives and could be further engineered to detect coronavirus. This futuristic technology could be coming earlier enough. By the end of this year, they could be made available at some airports around us.

The European planemaker Airbus is in partnership with California based technology startup Koniku, to develop jellyfish-like sensors using microprocessors built from living biological cells.
These sensors can ‘smell’ chemical and explosive threats like sniffer dogs.

Airbus announced that “Based on the power of odour detection and quantification found in nature, the technical solution, developed to meet the rigorous operational, regulatory requirements of aircraft and airport security operations, uses genetically engineered odorant receptors that produce an alarm signal when they come into contact with the molecular compounds of the hazard or threat that they have been programmed to detect.”

Koniku believes this technology will conquer the barrier of smell sensing by a machine. It uses silicon processors joined with living cells to mimic the natural smelling process.

This project has been in the works since 2017, and Airbus is confident in the prototype’s ability to perform soundly as it is today. Julien Touzeau, head of product security for the Americas at Airbus, said that “The technology has a very quick response time of under 10 seconds in best conditions. With this level of maturity, it’s an incredible result, and hopefully, it will improve over time.”

Airbus also expressed optimism that the Koinku sensors could be installed in airport screen tunnels later this year.

Working on plans, the idea that certain diseases have different odours, these sensors could be used to detect coronavirus. Well, before they get to that level, it will be interesting to note their performance in its first stages.