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In this paper, we present a sample-detection scheme designed for non-raster scanning in atomic force microscopy. The scheme utilizes a maximum-likelihood estimator applied over a moving window and enables the tracking of a string-like sample. By tracking, the tip is kept in proximity to the sample, reducing the total imaging time by eliminating the measurement of unnecessary information. We combine the new estimator with previously reported results and apply the algorithm in simulation to actual data obtained through a raster-scan image of DNA.