Police dogs in airports may need to start sniffing around for a new job if Israeli security firm X-Test makes good on its pledge to provide airports with trained mice that can detect explosives and other contraband better than any human, canine, or machine.
X-Test’s vice-president, Yuval Amsterdam, a former bomb-disposal expert for the Israel Defense Forces, claims mice have many advantages. “They’re as good as dogs as far as their ability to sense, but they’re smaller and easier to train,” he told the Independent. “They’re cheap, and you don’t have to take them for a walk.
As fun as it sounds, the idea isn’t to simply release a horde of furry bomb detectors into your luggage, but rather keep them inside cages at airport security checkpoints, from which they’ll sniff passing travelers. In fact, the mice may even be able to detect explosives (or anything else) implanted inside the body, which current scanners (short of rubber gloves) apparently have trouble catching.
Based on a description of the system in 2012, when it was first unveiled at the International Conference on Homeland Security in Tel Aviv, the mice are conditioned to react when they detect contraband, sending biological info to a computer, which alerts security when needed. It may all sound a bit crackers, but Amsterdam brushes aside any concerns, remaining optimistic. “We can teach them anything that has a scent – whether it’s explosives, whether it’s drugs, whether it’s ivory in Africa. Anything that has a smell.”