Researchers say cars that protect occupants' noses from virtually all unpleasant smells – emanating from inside the car or outside the cabin – will soon be a reality.

Automotive researchers say cars that protect occupants' noses from virtually all unpleasant smells – emanating from inside the car (cigarette smoke or smelly passengers) or outside the cabin (sewage farms, factories, hot road tar etc) – will soon be a reality.


Maximilian Fleischer, principal researcher for gas sensors at Siemens VDO Automotive in Munich, says the key to developing effective odour-busting systems is combining existing technology with some new devices.


"We're close to having 'wellness' sensors that can automatically control the quality of the air inside the car: temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, even smell," he said.


Fleischer envisions a vehicle that would automatically maintain passenger-compartment air at an optimum level, without requiring manual adjustments, by detecting and adjusting for a variety of conditions.


Sensors would trigger the filter and recirculation system when the car travels in a smelly area and allow more fresh air in the car and dehumidify the cabin, for example, if a carload of passengers was starting to cause the windows to fog.


The car would integrate heat and humidity sensors to adjust the cabin climate to correspond with how the human body perceives temperature, reported on Wednesday.


Most of the devices – such as the odour-absorbing filters – already exist, so lower cost sensors and integrated electronics are all that is missing, Fleischer was quoted as saying.


The same gas sensors that detect CO2 or the sulphur compounds in manure and tar outside the car are becoming inexpensive enough to be used to monitor the inside air too, he added…


Siemens VDO had developed low-cost, millimetre-sized microprocessors that detect various gases. "We already use these sensors in engine-management controls," he said. "This is just using them elsewhere in the car."