With the dangers of landmines lingering long after a conflict had ended, it’s almost natural to forget the main reason to why these devices are laid out in the first place – to slow or stop the advance of an opposing force during the conflict. The US Navy has tested an unmanned aerial drone platform which act like a flying metal detector that can locate and identify landmines in real time. This helps Sailors and Marines to avoid mines when executing amphibious assaults.
The idea of using drones to search for landmines is not something new to begin with; many drone manufacturers out there has already implemented the idea into drones, which includes the use of hyperspectral imaging, metal detection or even laser beams, having a view to pinpoint those mine locations, and even remotely detonating them. An estimated 100 million of underground landmines has still yet to be discovered and cleared out around the world, and it’s up to these autonomous systems.
The US Navy’s Office of Naval Research is now testing aerial mine detection with a different approach. Their idea is to use such a system for real-time threat identification during combat operations.
The Mine Warfare Rapid Assessment Capability system (MIWRAC) consists of a portable one-pound quadcopter. The drone is equipped with a proprietary magnetometer suite and processing algorithms, used to detect buried and submerged mines which is sent back to an Android tablet, where a green map of the area is labelled with red clusters, showing potential dangers. The idea is to provide sailors and marines with information as they go in and out for amphibious beach landings.
“This technology will help Sailors and Marines who are approaching a beachfront to rapidly clear, or at least determine the location of, mines or other hazards that are in their way,” says ONR Command Master Chief Matt Matteson. “It could potentially save a lot of lives.”
The team hopes to have the Nacy Expeditionary Combat Command test and evaluate prototypes of this aerial system later this year, with a view to pushing the system out through the Navy fleet next year.
You can check out the video below to understand more about these flying landmine detectors.
[Source: Official of Naval Research]