Autonomous Ground Vehicle for Landmine Clearance – Phase 1 completed
Since 2018 we have been working in partnership with Molten-Labs to develop an Autonomous Ground Vehicle for Landmine Clearance. We set out to develop a faster, cheaper, safer, smarter and UN compliant way to clear mine fields, to allow civilian populations to safely use a previously no-go area, due to landmines and remaining of war in both conflict or post-conflict zones.
While landmines cause significant civilian and clearance worker deaths, they also have non-lethal effects such as denying locals access to their own fields or paths – effectively expelling those people from those lands, or denying paths to schools and markets. These non-lethal effects cause people to become refugees or to miss out on schooling or other economic opportunities.
The Autonomous Ground Vehicle for Landmine Clearance project is structured in five Phases, out of which Phase 1 has just been completed. We adapted one of our autonomous vehicles to navigate fields that contain hidden landmines. The end goal (to be achieved at the end of Phase 5) is to be able to detect, safely destroy and remove the debris of previous landmines, enabling local populations to safely use that field.
Phase 1 included the development of a high-precision method of autonomous navigation which involves depositing red & white lane markings and the following of those lane markings to ensure complete area coverage. The vehicle follows its own deposited lanes, overspraying the red “danger” lane marking with a white “all safe” lane marking. This allows for more accuracy than GPS alone, and gives a clear visual indicator to locals of where the safe boundaries are.
Another successfully completed element of Phase 1 was the development of a Graphical User Interface that allows a user to mark-up a designated area for the vehicle to then cover that area, ensuring all threats are identified and no area is left uncovered.
Phase 1 as well as the upcoming Phases 2 to 5 as depicted on the video below, once complete, will allow detection of metal in the ground, determination of the orientation of a landmine and its destruction in-situ, followed by removal of debris.
The project is expected to continue, ensuring that autonomous robots assist humans, especially in situations which are extremely dangerous, dull and dirty.
For more information, contact Dr Paulo Borges.
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