Technology is helping de-miners find unexploded land mines in new and cool ways, like the metal detectors augmented with smartphones we learned about this spring. And now, there are mine-chomping tank robots that eat mines for breakfast.
The Digger D-3 is the latest creation of Digger DTR, a Swiss non-governmental organization dedicated to designing mine-clearing devices. It has a spinning tiller of death called a flail, made of tungsten hammers that pound 10 inches into the ground. It also has a rolling tiller that can clear vegetation. The remote-controlled tank was brought to light by IEEE Spectrum's robotics blog.
The D-3 is fully armored to withstand land mines and ordnance up to 81mm in diameter, Digger says. It has a four-cylinder, 4.5 L John Deere diesel engine, which can crank out 173 hp at 2400 RPM. The remote-controlled robot is as adept at clearing shrubbery as it is at chomping mines, so it's ideal for minefields with dense vegetation or in mountainous areas, Digger says.
The video below shows its predecessor, the D-2, surviving mine explosions in Sudan. The new model is designed to be easily repaired and modified, enabling it to be used in remote locations with limited resources and plenty of land mines.
[via IEEE Spectrum]
so they basically put a farm plow in front of a tank...
to mars or bust!
Seen similar before, they dont last long, lots of maintainance after finding afew mines, cheaper/easier to do it by hand.
Actually minesweeping by hand is extremely labor intensive, but it is efficient.
@topstop: In fact, no. The point with this kind of machine is not clearing mines as such, but determining the boundaries of a minefield. Once you know the boundaries, then you can send in the human crew to do the actual mine clearing.
The basic problem in third world countries, is that in their wars the parties have set mines here and there in a totally unorganized way, /without/ recording where they have been set. After the conflict, you have all kinds of "booby traps" all around the place, and nobody has any clear idea where to even start to look for them. Unfortunately, too often the boundary of minefield is found by the usual method, i.e. someone actually stepping on a mine.
A fairly long time ago, when I was young marine recruit, I was taught in the dark art of laying minefields and boobytraps of different kinds and of varying strength. And I must say that I didn't like it one bit. Even less after we received a few lessons in first aid for wounds in the field, with photographs from different battlefields in the world. These weapons are simply mean, and kill long after the battle is over. Morally, about the only "mine" I still approve of is the Claymore (and that depends on how you rig it, passive or active).
I think this is Great. I don't know the facts on how effective human de-miners are and how safe it is, but technology to keep humans away from this what I assume to be a life-threatening job is worth the investing.
Is Popsci saying that the sweeper was rolling through the firework poppers with ease or the actual mines?? :)
@Ghost what farm plow has 2 dozen 10 pound tungsten hammers that pound 10 in into the earth? That would make farming that much more cool though.
topstop does not know what s/he is talking about. Manual demining EXTREMELY dangerous and time consuming. This time of mechanical demining is very effect at removing anti-personal and light anti-vehicle mines-like the ones seen in the video. However, it is not the best tool for removing heavy anti-tank mines.
This isn't new at all. The allies used almost identical technology in WWII by hooking up spinning chains to the front of their Sherman "Crab" tanks.
@hat and boots
a damn good one! lol. no actually most plows are made with plain steel. i was just think that during this machine's off time it could be used for agricultural uses. machines are amazing, they shouldn't be built to be limited to one duty unless they are built to last.
as another thought I wonder what would happen if somebody plowed a minefield...
to mars or bust!
I'm a combat veteran and a 12B(Combat Engineer) so I have a pretty good idea of what I'm talking about.
No, manual means is very effective but very time consuming. The A/N PSS-14 is a very effective mine detector and the only mine detection system I would feel comfortable using in theater. Nothing is going to find mines more accurately than the PSS-14. When you actually go through and PROOF a lane through a minefield you do it with the PSS-14. Once a mine is detected you dig it up enough to expose the mine then you blow it up in place. After than mine is blown up you continue on through the lane and repeat the process. Very effective but very time consuming.
Quintus was correct, the issue with minefields in many 3rd world countries is that they were put in place randomly with no method or record to show where or when they were put in place. Which is completely retarded from a tactical stand point. Why wouldn't you want to know where you put obstacles for counter mobility?
To compound this issue is that in the desert sands of Africa and the Middle East mines can be shifter under the sand several hundred if not thousands of meters from where they were originally emplaced. The more time that goes by the more they spread apart.
With this machine and ones like it, as this is not a redically new design or concept, you can move the vehicle through a SUSPECTED mine field, and once the machine starts setting off mines you can then try to establish the boundries of the field and then go in with PSS-14's and remove them the manual way.
Sappers Lead The Way!
Slovakian army has been producing this for some time now, but on much cheaper scale. Remake from commercial UNC 060 called Bozena.
What Army Juggernaut said, I didn't know about but that is cool. I saw an episode of future weapons where they find the mine and instead of just blowing it up they designed a portable "torch" that will melt through the mine without blowing it up and it completely destroys the whole thing. It's a lot cheaper than that digger and much more safer since you do not have to worry about shrapnel. You find the mine, uncover it, set up the "torch" on the stand and run the igniter, get as far away as the remote wil let you and ignite. I thing it said it will melt through an 1" of metal in 10 seconds.
Update: It's called the Dragon. It's on Season 2 Episode 10 of Future Weapons.
@S.Brandon: The problem is not how to dispose of a mine, its locating it. Once you know where it is, tell everyone to stand back a hundred feet while you put a bullet trough it. You can do the same thing with a fancy super-hero plasma toaster, but usually there just isn't any point in doing that. Just get rid of the goddamn thing as quickly and safely as possible, end of story.
Things get a bit more complicated, when you just cant let the charge go, but that is another story...