(p. A2) “What’s cool about dogs is when they do come into contact with an odor, they can track it to its source,” said L. Paul Waggoner, co-director of the Canine Performance Sciences Program at Auburn University. “There is not an instrument out there that replicates a dog’s nose.”
That’s not for lack of effort.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense spent $66 million between 1997 and 2010 drawing on the expertise of at least 35 different research institutions to develop sensors that could detect explosives as ably as a dog and identify other chemicals.
They couldn’t do it.
. . .
Surprisingly, pigs and ferrets outperformed German shepherds and Labrador retrievers, breeds often chosen for odor detection.
But overall, dogs won out because of their combination of qualities: Not only do they have strong noses, they are compatible with people, they respond to training, and–for now–they beat technology paws down.
For the full commentary, see:
Jo Craven McGinty. “THE NUMBERS; Dogs Still Beat Technology in the Smell Test.” The Wall Street Journal (Sat., March 25, 2017): A2.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date March 24, 2017, and has the title”THE NUMBERS; Making Sense of a Dog’s Olfactory Powers.”)