A few years back, brothers and inventors Massoud and Mahmud Hassani unveiled a clever and widely-celebrated landmine clearing device resembling a giant dandelion puff that rolled over terrain like a tumbleweed, detonating and clearing landmines in its path. The rolling device called the mine kafon also had an onboard computer that logged the GPS locations of any discovered mines to help map areas that were likely heavy with landmines as well as safe paths.
The Hassani brothers are from Afghanistan, a country that is still riddled with landmines. They fled the country in the 1990s, but have committed the past few years of their life to finding ways to clear the world of the 100 million forgotten landmines still hidden, which kill or maim 10 people every day.
The mine kafon worked, but it had one major drawback. Since it was wind-propelled, it couldn't sweep an area for mines in a systematic way. So even if it rolled over an area and detonated mines, there was no way to be sure that it had detonated all in that area.
The brothers then changed course and began working on a low-cost drone to map, detect and destroy landmines that is currently on Kickstarter. The inventors say that the drone is 20 times faster than humans at mine detection and removal.
The 10-pound, six-armed drone, flies over a field and identifies dangerous areas with GPS way points. The drone then gets down to 4 cm above the ground and uses a metal detector arm to detect mines. Any mines found are plotted on a map. Finally, the drone flies back over the found mines with a robotic gripping arm that places a small detonator on top of every detected mine. The detonator is on a timer so that the drone is a safe distance away before it explodes.
The team has the ultimate goal of clearing the world of landmines in just 10 years. They've already met their Kickstarter goal, but are still accepting pledges to reach a stretch goal for onboard hydrogen batteries that would let the drones fly for longer at a time. You can watch the video below to learn more.