One of the many ways in which robotic laborers are superior to their human counterparts is their ability to be easily re-purposed: one day you're an underpaid, under-appreciated nursebot chain-smoking with your co-workers in the break room, and the next day you're equipped with some new peripherals and tasked with ratting out those very same smokers along with other potential fire hazards. Such is the life of a Tmsuk-manufactured robot named Ubiko, who was snatched away from its budding career as an unassuming hospital receptionist by researchers from Kyushu University and the Kanazawa Institute of Technology, and retrofitted with a unique olfactory sensor programmed to recognize the distinctive odors of smoke and ash. This new electronic sniffer allows Ubiko to pick up scents too faint for the human proboscis to detect, giving it a "nose up" when it comes to tracking down small fires before they turn into raging infernos. Since the bot isn't equipped with any actual firefighting paraphernalia, its only job is wirelessly alerting authorities to potential problems and then scooting away before it melts into the floor; these so-called "authorities" then have the grueling task of pressing yet another button to deploy either an Anna Konda or SACI bot to make short work of the lit candle or smoldering cigarette butt.

[Via Pink Tentacle]

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