NC town using robots to test wastewater for opioid consumption

North Carolina

Cities across the country are finding new and innovative ways to combat opioid addiction. One town in North Carolina is using robots to assess the crisis.

Just outside of Raleigh, the Town of Cary is partnering with the Massachusetts-based company called Biobot Analytics for a $100,000 pilot project to test what’s flushed down the toilet.

Cary reported a 40 percent increase in fatal overdoses and a 135 percent spike in non-fatal overdoses last year. 


Biobot Analytics  created devices that test for digested opioids. Automated water samplers are being placed in certain manholes in the city, to protect privacy but show opioid use in particular regions. 

“As somebody processes opioids through their body and through their liver, they excrete a different type of opioid from their body and into the sewer system.” project manager Donald Smith said.

Biobot Analytics says data collected in the project will help the town understand consumption trends. It’s expected to estimate total consumption of drugs including Morphine, Oxycodone, Codeine, Heroin and Fentanyl.

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