In all corners of the world, land mines are a threat to health, life, and security. By some estimates, there are currently 110 million landmines in the ground right now, waiting to be triggered at any moment.
In acknowledgment of the horrific injuries to civilians that landmines cause, 164 countries have signed up to the Ottawa Treaty, which bans the production and use of mines in all contexts.
However, the US, China, Russia, India, and other major powers are not signatories and continue to deploy landmines to this day.
That is why safe demining operations are more important than ever. If you’re wondering “what is demining?”, read this two-minute guide on what safe demining looks like.
Mapping Is Key
The most important part of the safe demining process is accurate mapping of where landmines are. Some landmines can remain active for more than 50 years, meaning that it is crucial to identify historic minefields and evacuate the area quickly.
Mapping is usually conducted by official agencies such as the UN and NATO. These are able to use their extensive military intelligence to determine where landmines currently are and where they are most likely to be.
Smart Demining Detection
Once you have mapped where landmines are, the next step is to zoom in and determine the exact location. These days, smart robotics are essential for this task.
Before demining can begin, the first step is to send in robots that can scan the area and send alerts to the team when they have spotted a mine. For example, the LeoTronics UGV from TrackReitar is a smart robot that can be remotely used to detect mines on any terrain with almost 100% accuracy.
Once you have the exact location of each and every mine, it is time to remove and deactivate them. Again, safety is paramount, which is why a robotic deminer should always be used for the job.
But what are deminer robots exactly?
Put simply, they are very tough, remotely-operated bots that can destroy a landmine and take on minimal damage. They are military-grade hardware that contains a huge number of moving parts.
It is the job of a highly-trained demining expert to operate the robot from a safe distance. Using a remote control system, the operator will command the robot to dig the mine out of the ground.
From here, the mine can either be deactivated or, more often, destroyed outright. This is how most of the largest demining operations, such as the UK Clearance Program, operate.
Sometimes, landmines are found in densely populated urban areas. In these cases, blowing up the landmine is not an option. Instead, the demining bot might pour corrosive chemicals on the mine.
These will deactivate it without prompting a detonation.
Nuclear material can also be used to render a landmine harness without having to blow it up. In recent years, bacteria, bugs, and fungi have all been used to successfully and safely dispose of mines in these contexts.
How Technology Is Making Tomorrow Safer
Demining might not be the topical issue it once was, but it still matters. Especially now, when huge numbers of landmines are being rolled out once more in emerging conflict zones, knowledge of demining matters.
For more insights on how technology can make tomorrow a safer time, we have got you covered. Make sure to consult our Technology knowledge hub for more important insights.