August 31, 2007 There is perhaps no graver reminder of the indiscriminate cruelty of modern warfare than the landmine
. It's estimated that over 100 million landmines remain concealed around the world and with the aim of improving detection techniques, researchers from the Delft University of Technology
in the Netherlands are developing a ultra-wideband radar system
that they hope will make the process safer and cheaper.
May 9, 2007 The development of robots for the U.S. Military is primarily so they can do jobs that keep humans out of harm's way. One of the world’s foremost roboticists, the delightfully eccentric Mark Tilden, recently encountered an interesting response while testing an autonomous landmine-detecting robot according to the Washington Post.
Tilden is best known as the designer of Wowee
ad infinitum range of robotic toys, but has worked for NASA
and more recently Los Alamos National Laboratory
where he is developing a five feet long stick-insect-like autonomous robot designed to step on landmines, get itself blown up, then intelligently adapt so that it can continue onwards with its remaining legs and step on more mines. During a demonstration, where the robot was continually blown up until it was down to one leg, Tilden was ordered to stop by an Army Colonel who was distressed at seeing the crippled robot hobbling toward the next landmine. With his judgement clouded no doubt by seeing humans engaged in the real thing, the Colonel declared the demonstration was inhumane.
March 1, 2007 UPDATED IMAGES Anti Personnel (land)mines
cannot distinguish between the footfall of a child and a soldier. The banning of landmines by the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty has left civilised military forces with a problem – landmines have traditionally been used to cover dead ground in the 20 to 200 metre range. The weapon of choice to replace the landmine has subsequently become the Claymore
. Named after the 700 year-old two-handed Scottish sword, the Claymore is based on the Misznay-Schardin effect in that its blast is primarily in a single direction. The U.S. Army developed the design half a century ago during the Korean War into an anti-personnel weapon that would fire 700 ball bearings propelled by 650 grams of plastic explosive with lethal effect to 100 meters across a 60° arc in front of the 8 x 3 x 1.5 inch box. Claymores are not buried like mines – they are anchored above ground pointed towards the likely location of the enemy, and are now known the world over for the words "Front Toward Enemy" embossed on their olive plastic casing. For the first 50 years of their existence, Claymores have been dumb – but an ingenious telecommunications system that can be fitted to any Claymore looks set to give new life to the fearsome weapon. The newly available Macroswiss Claymore Camera consists of a video camera attached to the Claymore, which relays information to a remote receiver through a cable system so an operator can monitor events in front of the mine, and detonate it when the time comes. If the user wants to keep a record, the video feedback can be recorded with the GPS position and its even possible to ensure no-one can sneak past the mine by adding a motion detection system that will raise an alarm if there is any movement in the camera’s field of view.
For when the alternatives to not getting there just don’t bear thinking about, (or if your neighbour has a Hummer), perhaps give some thought to BAE Systems’ new 6x6 RG33. It’s designed with all the latest next-generation technology to help keep soldiers safe from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), small arms, heavy machine gun fire and mines. The highly survivable RG33 incorporates a monocoque V-shaped hull design leveraging knowledge gained in recent and ongoing conflicts, and offers significant interior volume for crew and mission equipment. The base model exceeds the survivability of all currently-fielded mine protected vehicles and the optional extras include tailorable armor packages, blast-resistant seating, transparent armor and unique reconfigurable interior stations. The power train platforms is designed to handle upgrades and enhancements.
October 10, 2006 BAE Systems rolled out its new production-ready 6x6 Mine-Protected Vehicle, to be unveiled Monday to military leadership at the U.S. Army Annual Meeting & Exhibition in Washington yesterday, the latest in its long line of highly survivable vehicles for the military. The RG33 is a next-generation 6x6 that offers more volume under armor than any other C130 transportable mine protected vehicle and incorporates a monocoque V-shaped hull design for protection against improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The RG33L is equipped with a hydraulic ramp, a gunner's protection kit, a robotic arm, survivability gear, and dedicated space for equipment stowage. In addition, the vehicle is remote weapon capable and network enabled. RG33L features additional systems to enhance survivability, such as modular add on armor kit provisions, TRAPP transparent armor that provides excellent visibility and situational awareness, and run-flat tires. The vehicle is equipped with multi-positional mine protected seating and air conditioning.
September 15, 2006 One of the most effective and cost-efficient inventions in history, the anti-personnel or land-mine came into its own in the 20th century. Though its first recorded use was by the Chinese against the invading Mongols of Ghenghis Khan eight hundred years ago, the landmine’s ability to extend and multiply the casualties of war for many subsequent decades has seen it become the most feared of all military weapons. The advent of the tank during WW1 precipitated the development of the anti-tank mine, a clumsy, cumbersome device which was easily dug up and re-deployed by opposing forces. To prevent this redeployment, the anti-personnel mine was developed and used extensively, targeting military personnel. Today, there are more than 100 million landmines buried and active. Another 100 million are stockpiled and ten million are produced annually. Landmines from WW2 still today claim large tracts of land in France and Holland, though the world-wide proliferation of land-mines and their indiscriminate use against civilian populations did not begin until the Vietnam War.
Danish scientists have made a scientific discovery with significant humanitarian and environmental potential. They have shown that it is possible to produce plants which change colour in the presence of specific compounds within the soil, opening the way for the first bomb and land-mine detection plant.