Methane is a major contributor to global climate change, and roaming around garbage landfills to look for methane gas leaks is an incredibly dirty—and difficult—job for humans. So obviously you would want to employ a robot to do the task harder, faster, better, stronger.
Enter the Gasbot. It’s a mobile methane-sniffing machine developed by researchers at Örebro University in Sweden, with funding through Robot Dalen. The GPS-equipped robot comes with a remote sensor that can detect methane without having to be right on top of a smelly gas leak. It does this by using two lasers to sniff the air for traces of methane gas.
In the pre-Gasbot world, environmental scientists have had to head out into the garbage heaps to look for methane gas leaks by hand. If there’s ever a job you’d want a robot to replace, this might be it.
The Örebro University scientists say they have successfully tested a prototype of the robot at a decommissioned landfill and an underground tunnel to find a leaky gas pipe.
For the next step, the researchers plan to improve the Gasbot with a mobile platform that’s better suited for traversing the uneven trash heaps. The ultimate goal is to make a machine that can operate autonomously for days to weeks, and cover several square miles on its own.