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Furthest Reaches No More: Quadruped Robot Arm Takes on Hazardous Environments for Chemical Testing

Furthest Reaches No More: Quadruped Robot Arm Takes on Hazardous Environments for Chemical Testing

The terrifying birth of a robotic nightmare or a loyal ally in man's quest for safety? Imagine a four-legged robot, likened to a dog, with a mechanical arm capable of taking air samples in precarious environments– be it an abandoned building or amidst a raging fire. What may sound like a plot from a sci-fi movie is a real project that a team of diligent researchers have recently published in the Analytical Chemistry journal by ACS.

Despite the need for further fine-tuning, successful demonstrations of this robot dog with an air-sampling ability hint at its potential application in perilous conditions. Alt-text: A team of researchers has developed a dog-like robot that can sample air in hazardous environments.

Professionals such as scientists and technicians often face the dangerous task of testing air for hazardous chemicals in risky workplaces or after accidents such as fires. In light of this, Bin Hu and his team have developed mobile detection systems for hazardous gases and VOCs (volatile organic compounds). They have achieved this by creating remote-controlled sample collection devices akin to miniature remotely operated ships and aerial drones. The newest member in their line of robotic innovations is a dog-like robot with a testing arm mounted on its back, capable of independent control and loaded with three needle trap devices (NTDs). These NTDs collect air samples at any stage of the robot's terrestrial mission.

To evaluate their novel creation, the research team deployed their four-legged lab on test drives in a series of off-limits areas that included a garbage disposal plant, sewer system, gasoline fireground, and a chemical warehouse. The aim was to capture samples of hazardous VOCs present in the air. Despite experiencing difficulties in navigating during adverse weather conditions like rain and snow, the robotic dog managed to gather air samples and return them to the portable mass spectrometer (MS) for on-the-spot analysis.

This swift action of the robot dog reduces the time taken to transfer samples to an off-site laboratory, and importantly, eliminates the need for a biologic technician to brave perilous environments. With this, the researchers have demonstrated a smart and safer system for detecting potentially harmful compounds.

The authors have acknowledged the funding for the project provided by Guangzhou Science and Technology Program and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

Disclaimer: The above article was written with the assistance of AI. The original sources can be found on ScienceDaily.