An anti-land mine drone

The Mine Kafon Drone equipped with a metal detector (Photo credit: Mine Kafon Foundation)

Massoud Hassani knows about land mines all too well. A designer born in Afghanistan but settled for the past 20 years in the Netherlands, Hassani has been searching for a decade for “the” solution by surfing the wave of cheap mini remotely piloted air systems (RPAS). His latest project, the Mine Kafon Drone (MKD), is in the process of being completed thanks to more than 4,000 contributors to a crowd funding scheme.

According to Hassani, there are still 100 million active landmines, threatening nearly one billion people in some 60 countries. But “using current technologies, clearing or even detecting all land mines across the entire world would take over 1,100 years,” he says. That is why the MKD was created with the ambition of wiping out “all the land mines and explosives in less than 10 years.

As proof of the relevance of the concept, it reached 4th place out of more than 1,000 projects presented at the Drones for Good competition held in Dubai last February. A first form of recognition followed by a demonstration carried out in March for the Dutch and Belgian military. Hassani is already considering a second more in-depth demonstration in order to “push the limits of the MKD in terms of mapping, detection and detonation.”

The MKD this time equipped with a manipulating forceps designed to drop an explosive charge on the land mine (Photo credit: Mine Kafon Foundation)

A typical MKD mission is divided into three phases. The first is the 3D mapping of a given space in order to identify the locations likely to hide a mine. The user then exchanges the MKD mapping system with a robotic arm equipped with a metal detector. MKD will then fly over the ground at a height of about 4cm to detect the mines. Any mine detected is automatically geolocated and listed on the map defined during the first phase. Other detectors, larger, more powerful and capable of finding non-metallic mines are being studied. Finally, the robotic arm is equipped with small detonators that the MKD will deposit on the mines and then move away so that the operator can trigger the charge remotely. Each step is directed remotely by means of a simple application installed on an ordinary mobile phone. As for the operating radius, it would exceed 1,000 metres thanks to improved connectivity installed in April 2016.

The Hassani team uses 3D modelling and printing to create the robotic arms and other subsystems on the commercially purchased drone, necessary for the constant evolution of their project.

According to Hassani, these tools and this simplified methodology would make it possible to make the process 20 times faster and 200 times cheaper “than traditional systems.” To give an order of magnitude, a French section deployed in 2011 in Lebanon within the framework of UNIFIL needed three weeks to neutralise 10 anti-personnel mines … MKD is therefore a simple to use, fast and affordable solution which could in particular attract the attention of NGOs active in conflict zones but with limited financial resources.

So, interested? You can already acquire a Mine Kafon Drone to mount yourself for only €850.