Canines solving human thermal plumes that suggest bomb-making.

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Best of 2015: Canines solving human thermal plumes that suggest bomb-making.

Puppies Go to Prison to Become Dogs That Save Lives By ETHAN HAUSER. JULY 27, 2015

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"...What was the most effective way, Dr. Waggoner and his colleagues wondered, for dogs to patrol crowded areas? They found their answer in the work of Gary Settles, a mechanical engineering professor at Penn State whose research had shown that humans produce thermal plumes that emanate from our bodies and entrain gaseous particles. Most of these particles, like traces of perspiration or perfume, are benign, but the plume can also betray contact with hazardous materials, like those used in bombs. Instead of screening each person, then, the dogs could inspect the “human aerodynamic wakes” that trail behind people in motion and alert a handler to the presence of explosives.

If that sounds fairly straightforward, “it’s a bigger challenge than you think,” Dr. Waggoner said. “Dogs naturally want to interrogate things and people, and not open space.”

Among the first animals trained under the new protocol were dogs deployed by Amtrak in 2007, and the rail service has used more than 70. Dogs schooled in vapor wake detection have also guarded the New York City subway system, presidential inaugurations, and sporting events at Busch Stadium in St. Louis...."

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