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View Full Version : Forget sniffer dogs - now mice

02-04-2011, 02:48 PM
Anti-terrorist mice to hit airports

FORGET sniffer dogs, crack teams of mice are being trained to detect bombers and drugs couriers at airports.

The sniffer rodents are then hidden in airport scanners, ready to raise the alarm.

The detector has been built by Israeli researchers who say it is more accurate than using dogs, pat downs and x-ray machines.

It looks like a metal detector or full-body scanner, but one side of it houses three concealed cartridges, each containing eight specially trained mice.

The animals work four-hour shifts, milling around in an allocated cartridge while sniffing air pumped in from outside.

When they pick up traces of explosives or drugs, they flee to a side chamber, triggering an alarm, New Scientist reports.

To avoid false positives, more than one mouse must run away.

Inventor Eran Lumbroso, whose company BioExplorers is looking for a larger firm to help with the final stages of development, said: "It is as if they are smelling a cat and escaping. We detect the escape."

To set the pattern of shifts, air is pumped to a different cartridge every four hours.

This gives the rodents eight hours to sleep and play before they are required to "clock on" again.

The mice take around ten days to learn their first smell. Subsequent odours take just a few days each.

Unlike sniffer dogs, mice do not require constant interaction with their trainers or to be plied with treats to keep them motivated.

The concept may appeal to those who fear that the full-body scanners introduced at many airports are exposing them to harmful radiation and invading privacy.

Security expert Bruce Schneier told New Scientist: "Animals" noses are always a good solution, and the mice don"t see you naked."

The device was field tested last year on 1000 shoppers in a Tel Aviv mall when the mice successfully picked out the 22 people with mock explosives in their pockets.

The scanners - which are likely to be cheaper than equipment already in use - could be on the market within months.

It is unclear, however, how the mice would react if a cat was loose in the airport.


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02-04-2011, 03:07 PM
just bring cheese and all the mice will be confused

02-04-2011, 03:33 PM
I think this is great news. I'm not fond of dogs.

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