Researchers Design Laser Device That Detects Alcohol in Moving Cars


Researchers at the Military University of Technology in Warsaw just made it easier for police officials to identify culprits of drunken driving and reduce accidents caused by intoxicated drivers.

Researchers from the university's Institute of Optoelectronics designed and developed a laser system in 2013 that is capable of detecting alcohol in moving cars from the roadside. If alcohol vapours are identified in the car, the system dispatches a message, along with a photo of the car and its number plate to the police officer. Then, the officer can stop the car and check for signs of alcohol using conventional tests.

It "will surely decrease the number of cars that have to be checked by police and, at the same time, will increase efficacy of stopping drunken drivers," authors Jarosław Młyńczak, Jan Kubicki, and Krzysztof Kopczyński wrote in the paper.

To test the device, scientists used a car with a system that simulated an intoxicated driver and produced alcohol vapours inside. The laser device was able to identify the presence of alcohol vapours in the car from an individual whose alcohol-blood concentration exceeded 0.1 percent.

The laser device features two lasers - a monitoring laser and a pilot laser, two detectors, two reflecting mirrors, a spherical mirror, a dichroic mirror and a chopper. Even if the driver is not drunk, the laser device can detect alcohol fumes breathed out from other passengers or if there is alcohol spill in the car.

The researchers confessed that it is possible for drivers to deceive the laser detector by either driving with windows open or by installing solar screens on the side windows among others.

"However, such situations are very easily detected by the system, which sends this information to the policeman indicating that the car should be checked," authors wrote in the paper.

Marco Gianinetto of the Politecnico di Milano, an associate editor with the SPIE journal, said in a press release that similar technology can be developed in future to detect drivers under the influence of other intoxicants.

The study, titled "Stand-off detection of alcohol in car cabins", is published in SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics journal.

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