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Techniques & Tools Sensors

Working Like a Dog

An earthquake strikes, buildings crumble, survivors are buried beneath the rubble. When it comes to search and rescue in the aftermath, every minute counts. Rescue dogs are a valuable resource – but they are far from perfect.

“I was surprised when I spoke to first responders about search and rescue missions – I was not aware how limited the operational capabilities of rescue dogs are,” says Andreas Güntner, research associate and team leader in the Particle Technology Laboratory, ETH Zurich. “Sniffing is tremendously exhausting for them, and so they may only operate for ten minutes to half an hour before they need hours of rest.” This revelation kicked off the development of a device designed to sense human breath- and skin-emitted chemicals to assist in search and rescues.

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About the Author

Joanna Cummings

A former library manager and storyteller, I have wanted to write for magazines since I was six years old, when I used to make my own out of foolscap paper and sellotape and distribute them to my family. Since getting my MSc in Publishing, I’ve worked as a freelance writer and content creator for both digital and print, writing on subjects such as fashion, food, tourism, photography – and the history of Roman toilets. Now I can be found working on The Analytical Scientist, finding the ‘human angle’ to cutting-edge science stories.

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