A NEW WAY TO DETECT

LAND MINES

ROBOTS AND RATS WORKING TOGETHER

Using a combination of robotics technology and wearable computing for specially trained rats, we have devised a new way to map land mine fields.

The rats are fitted with a waistcoat containing a small accelerometer-based electronic unit designed to collect real-time motion data while the rat searches for land mines thus enabling us to detect precisely when the rat gives an indication of the presence of a land mine.

Having developed the concept, methodology, and sensor electronics, we are currently raising funds to do live field tests, proof of concept studies, and data analysis at APOPO’s facilities in Tanzania.

HOW IT WORKS

PLAY VIDEO TO LEARN ABOUT OOMVELT'S SOLUTION

THE LAND MINE SCOURGE

Anti-personal landmines were originally designed during WWI to prevent the removal of anti-tank landmines by enemy soldiers. They were first used on a wide scale in WWII. Since 1938, anti-personal landmines have been utilized in every major conflict.

Anti-personal landmines were strategically designed to maim, rather than kill, an enemy soldier with the logic that more resources are needed to care for an injured soldier than a dead soldier. They were originally used defensively, targeting only opposing forces to limit their movement and to protect strategic borders or landmarks.

However, overtime, anti-personal landmines began to be deployed on a wider scale, often in internal conflicts and aimed at terrorizing communities by targeting civilians. The practice of marking and mapping landmines ceased.

Many mines remain from the Second World War. In addition, since the 1960s as many as 110 million mines have been spread throughout the world into an estimated 70 countries.

Despite numerous campaigns and the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, as of October 2013, 59 states and four other areas were confirmed to remain mine-affected.

THE HUMAN TOLL

Anti-personal mines still maim and murder ordinary people everyday — they blow off their victim’s limbs, feet, and toes, fire shrapnel into their bodies, and kill.

Year after year, Landmine Monitor reports that between 75% and 85% of landmine victims are civilians.

Further, it is estimated that 50% of landmine victims die within hours of the blast and children are the least likely to survive. And this is not only during conflict the vast majority of countries where causalities are reported are at peace.

What is more, landmines are the most devastating to the most vulnerable parts of our world: they slow repatriation of refugees and displaced people, they hamper the provision of aid and relief services, they harm economic growth by depriving communities of their productive farmland, they cut off access to economically important areas such as roads and dams, and the wounds they inflict often require medical care that is too expensive or out of reach for their victims to access.

– Anti-personal landmines maim or kill 5,000 people annually — that is roughly 12 people every day and 2 people every hour.

– Though the number of landmine casualties is slowly declining, the percentage of those causalities that are civilians is growing. In 2012, 78% of casualties were civilians.

– In 2012, 47% of landmine causalities were children.

VIOLATING INTERNATIONAL LAW

International Humanitarian Law and the Geneva Convention’s laws of war indicate that forces must distinguish between military targets and civilians.

However, landmines do not discriminate — they cannot tell the difference between the boot of a soldier and the bare foot of a child.

Further, law of war indicated that injuries inflicted must be proportional to the military objective.

With a goal of optimal maiming of a civilian, anti-personal landmines also fail the proportionality test. Further, they do not follow peace agreements or ceasefires — the only way to end their violence is to clear them away.