A drug-sniffing Ford Fusion PHEV?
We can only imagine how Walter White would have handled that one. But this isn’t Breaking Bad. This is real life and we can only imagine not good news for drug dealers.
You see, a team of researchers at the University of North Texas has actually developed a car that can sniff the air for drugs.
Let’s start at the beginning. It began as a project to study air quality. The UNT researchers helped design and build a mobile mass spectrometer to take around and conduct its air quality measuring tests. (The system is certainly a mouthful to say. It’s called Membrane Inlet Mass Spectrometry.)
They even calibrated sensors in Antarctica which has the cleanest air in the world. They then decided to install it into a Ford Fusion Energi PHEV to make moving it around town easier. They removed its passenger seat to make room for the equipment and presto they were in business.
Then, it dawned on someone that you could do a whole lot more with this extra-sensitive air quality machine on four wheels. Like sniff for the smell of drugs wafting through the air. With the help of the spectrometer’s “nose”, located next to the passenger-side mirror, the car can pick up chemical signatures as far away as a quarter mile from the source, and then pinpoint the exact location of the suspected drug lab.
According to a CBS 11 news report, the team is now perfecting the car for potential police use. The latest version of the equipment is so small it can fit into a case.
“The car could just drive by it and keep moving down the road,” said Dr. Guido Verbeck, director of the UNT lab running the project. “It’ll alert the officers there’s something going on at the house, and where the location is.”
The vehicle was a joint effort between UNT and INFICON of East Syracuse in New York. The company builds gas analyzers and particle detectors.