In pursuit of a better future: a drone marking mines


    Even after the removal of international forces from Afghanistan, more than 500 square kilometers of the country’s territory is still dotted with almost 10 million land mines.

    About 400 people die and maim them a year, most of them children.

    Unfortunately, the situation in Afghanistan is far from unique. Angola, Iraq, Cambodia and Bosnia have also faced similar misfortunes, whose inhabitants still suffer from the consequences of hostilities that once occurred in their countries.

    An idea from the past


    Massoud Hassani, a Dutch designer who spent the first 10 years of his life in Afghanistan, set himself the goal of rectifying this terrifying situation.
    “I grew up in the Kvasaba area, Kabul,” he recalls. - My family moved there when I was 5 years old; at that moment several wars were already going on in the country. Every day, my brother Mahmoud and I played in a field surrounded by high hills. We didn’t have very many toys, but we learned how to make our own. One of my favorite toys was a small contraption that rotated due to the force of the wind. We arranged competitions with other guys: whose toy the wind carries away further into the field, he won. The wind in our field was always strong, and he carried away our toys very quickly and very far. Each time they found themselves in those areas where we were strictly forbidden to enter, because there were mines. I still remember how many of our toys are left there. That's how I got the idea. ”


    Destroy mines will help the wind


    Massoud had an ambitious goal - to rid the world of mines for a decade.

    “In 2011, I was engaged in a graduation project at the Academy of Design in Eindhoven. For work, I needed to return home, where I planned to give new life to our toys. But only this time my “toy” was supposed to be 20 times bigger, heavier and stronger. It was called Mine Kafon, which in translation from the local dialect, the Dari language, means "Mine detonator." When the device hits a mine, it, like a mine, explodes. Mine Kafon has the appearance of a sphere made of biodegradable plastic and bamboo. On the one hand, it is quite light, so it is set in motion by the wind. On the other hand, its weight is enough for the mine to detonate. When the shell explodes, Mine Kafon loses just a few legs, so each device can destroy three or even four mines. The device is equipped with navigators, thanks to which its location can be easily tracked. This, in turn, allows you to create a map of the safest travel routes, as well as calculate how many mines were destroyed in a certain area, ”Massoud explains.

    Global statistics sound very disappointing. According to the UN, since the 1960s, about 110 million mines have been installed in 70 countries around the world. Every year, between 15,000 and 20,000 people die because of this.
    “According to official statistics, there are about 10 million mines in Afghanistan now. But in reality, it seems to me, there are many more. And if Mine Kafon’s device turned out to be effective in Afghanistan, I’m sure that it can be used in any other country, whose inhabitants suffer from this problem, because one destroyed mine is a saved life, ”Massoud said.


    What's New: Landmark Marking Drone


    During the Netherlands Technology Week, which was held from June 1 to June 6, 2015 in Eindhoven, Massoud demonstrated the achievements of the second stage of his project. So, working with several partners, he continues to work on improving the design of his device, trying to also reduce the cost of its production. Researchers are currently experimenting with smart materials that were developed in the Netherlands.

    At a certain point, Massoud came to the conclusion that he would need drones to realize his plan. It is worth mentioning that these UAVsenjoy a rather poor reputation, in particular due to the fact that they are often used in military operations. As reported in many newspapers, in particular the Washington Post, it was the use of drones that caused the death of several civilians in the United States.
    “I always liked the idea with drones,” Massoud says, “but I want to use them in order to save lives, and not take them away. We are trying to understand how drones can be used to detect the exact location of mines, because it is much easier for demining teams to work if they have such information. Our drone is equipped with a special hand, on which a sensitive mini-detector is located. The device hovering over the territory that needs to be cleared, and sprinkles with paint exactly to the place where, according to its data, the mine is located, and we get its exact coordinates. In addition, only non-ferrous metals have to be used to create drones - otherwise there is a risk that the mine will detonate if the drone approaches it. So, although the idea itself is quite simple, its implementation requires team effort. I really hope that thanks to the presentation of my project during the Netherlands Technology Week, I still managed to attract the attention of the world community. At the moment, we are looking for partners who would help us with the development of maps, as well as investors who would agree to finance the work on the second stage of the project. In other words, we are committed to starting commercial production of the Mine Kafon device. ”


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