Sensor-Outfitted Google Avenue View Automobiles Show Adept at Sniffing Out “Hyperlocal” Air pollution Sources


Researchers from the Universities of Utah and California at Riverside have experimented with monitoring down “hyperlocal” sources of airborne air pollution β€” by equipping Google Avenue View vehicles with sensors.

“With cellular autos, you may actually ship them anyplace that they might drive to map out air pollution, together with sources which might be off the highway that earlier monitoring missed,” explains John Lin, professor of atmospheric sciences on the College of Utah, of the challenge. “I feel the roving sentinel concept could be fairly doable for lots of cities.”

The core idea behind the challenge is easy: fixed-position monitoring methods can present an outline of air high quality, however solely throughout a comparatively large space. By equipping autos with the identical know-how, it is doable collect information over a a lot wider space and mannequin the end result to seek out the sources of air pollution β€” even when the happen off-road.

The staff launched trials in 2019, partnering with Google so as to add air high quality sensors to a pair of Avenue View vehicles β€” autos which had been all the time on the highway and visited a broad space as they took imagery for the corporate’s mapping service. The info thus gathered confirmed anticipated spikes in pollutant ranges alongside highways, whereas a brand new atmospheric modeling technique proposed by Lin confirmed air pollution from two identified sources β€” in addition to a previously-unknown supply, in an industrial space close to Salt Lake Metropolis airport.

“The large takeaway is that there’s a lot of spatial variability of air air pollution from one finish of a block to a different,” notes Tammy Thompson, co-author of the research and a senior air high quality scientist on the Environmental Protection Fund (EDF). “There may be large variations in what individuals are respiration, and that scale shouldn’t be captured by the everyday regulatory screens and the coverage that the US EPA makes use of to manage air air pollution.”

“We’d like to have the ability to perceive what common air air pollution seems like in numerous communities,” Thompson continues, “after which perceive why there’s variability and why there are hotspots, and subsequently what we will do about it. It’s actually, actually necessary as we be taught an increasing number of about inequity in air air pollution and what we’re respiration throughout the nation.”

The staff’s work has been revealed within the journal Atmospheric Atmosphere below open-access phrases; information is accessible to obtain from

Primary article picture courtesy of Logan Mitchell/College of Utah.


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