Is the person who smelt it really the one who dealt it? A team of researchers from Tianjin University is close to an answer. As reported by Xinhua news, the group recently took home China's Pineapple Science Award for creating a device capable of detecting the origin of a fart.
The research, first published in the Journal Autonomous Robots in 2011, describes the odor source localization (OSL) science behind the mechanism.
"When the odor plume clue is found, the robot performs an exploratory behavior, such as a plume-tracing strategy, to collect more information about the previously unknown odor source," the authors wrote in their report. "In parallel, the information collected by the robot is exploited by the PF(particle filters)-based OSL algorithm to estimate the location of the odor source in real time."
Each year since 2012, The Pineapple Science Awards have highlighted the sillier side of scientific innovation (previous winners have included a mucous collector for runny noses and a robot controlled by a monkey's brain), but this invention was designed with a serious purpose in mind. It was originally meant to be used in robots built to detect and fix toxic gas leaks, potentially saving the lives of first responders. Its fart-detecting capabilities are just an added bonus.