Scientists develop alcohol-detecting “radar”

by Marta Burgués

Enjoying wine, beer or spirits in moderation and prudence is very important to avoid accidents, since drinking and driving is one of the factors that most influence mortality on road, a problem that, year after year, despite the efforts of authorities, remains a concern for society. Other countries, in addition to applying classical control methods, are performing research on applying new technologies to the detection of this type of dangerous and reckless behaviour.

Specifically, at the Institute of Optoelectronics, Military University of Technology in Warsaw (Poland), scientists Jaroslaw Mlynczak, Jan Kubicki and Krzysztof Kopczyski have developed a new system to detect alcohol vapour inside moving vehicles using a laser. Thus it would be possible, without the need for classical breathalyzer test, to find out if the driver or any of the passengers of a car has significant levels of alcohol, thus being able to improve the accuracy and efficiency of the methods used so far.

The study, published in the Journal of Applied Remote Sensing, and according to the information contained in the website Thedrinksbusiness, details the ability of the device, which uses stand-off detection to record alcohol vapour as low as 0,1%. The system, in the future, could be also applied to detect other substances, and although at the moment there are certain limitations on the ability to “trick” the device (opening the car windows or putting on these typical sunscreens), these data can be easily collected to inform the authorities and perform an individual inspection.

The device of course is still under development and it may take some time until it has direct application, since it will be necessary to calibrate all the above factors for optimum accuracy, avoiding errors and possible fraud attempts.

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