The SNIFFER project: A bio-mimicry enabled artificial ‘sniffer’

‘The SNIFFER project proposes a highly innovative one-stop shop approach to complement dogs and leverage their capabilities.’


The SNIFFER project is based on state-of-the-art technologies centred on a new generation of olfactory biosensors. The SNIFFER devices to be developed combine in a one-stop shop sampling, pre-concentration and pre-treatment with bio-mimicry, synthetic diamond sensor technology and multi-parametric training software.

About the project 

Dogs are known for their incredible ability to detect odours but can only be trained to a limited set of applications, get tired quickly and many border control applications are poorly received by the public. This project offers flexible technology that allows users to continuously keep improving the "olfactory scope" of their "artificial sniffers" quickly and at low additional cost, even once they have been deployed. This concept results from a multidisciplinary collaboration of several years between research teams from Italy, the UK, France and Switzerland.


Users involved in the SNIFFER project provide a representative set of usage cases, all related to border control security in the large sense - such as the detection of illegal substances carried by people and in suitcases (open or on a luggage belt) and cars or the detection of hidden people in containers. EADS, the integrator partner have built dedicated systems for these usage cases to allow for a comprehensive assessment in view of progressively improving the project.

These improvements include: providing a range of practical border security solutions, developing artificial sniffer technologies, and optimise efficiency and impact of SNIFFER project.

Implementation journey

During the first reporting period project partners identified and validated six usage cases that present various security application needs and challenges. They provided definitions, user requirements and specifications for the proposed artificial sniffer devices. The team addressed societal and ethical aspects in the use of such odour detection devices, and made recommendations for compliance with ethical and human rights standards.

Device functionalities and system design architecture were further specified and defined, leading to an updated list of devices for development. All associated mechanical and electronic subsystems have been built, integrated and trialled.


A range of biosensor technologies and advanced detection equipment are being developed and tested.