Using ArduPilot as an aerial minesweeper?

I read in Aviation Week (Nov 16th issue) about the International Astronautical Federation and the Minseeker Foundation teaming up to study landmine detection from space. Landmines are a terrible leftover from war in many developing countries. There are an estimated 100 million landmines in the world, and they kill or maim 15,000 to 20,000 people each year. Many international organizations are working on ways to efficiently remove these landmines.

This got me thinking about the feasability of using an inexpensive UAV as a minesweeping platform.

The biggest hurdle, or course, is developing a payload that could detect landmines from the air. I figure if someone thinks they could do this from low earth orbit, they could make a smaller package that could do it from 100 feet. Does anyone know of anyone doing research into this sort of thing? Anyone have a grad student friend looking for a research project? I am sure there is research money out there to fund this sort of project.

What would be required from an aircraft perspective? Again the payload size and weight would ultimately dictate the airframe, propulsion, and other parameters. But what about the avionics? Could ArduPilot provide the navigation, sensor orientation and geolocation information with sufficient accuracy? Could it maintain a desired altitude above ground (using a laser or sonar altitude sensor)?

Is this just a science-fiction fantasy?

Tom

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Admin
Comment by Morli on December 11, 2009 at 3:07pm
Hi Tom ,
That would be probably be another new one for usage of AP/UAV . Lets see what other have to say. Cheers
Comment by Ryan on December 11, 2009 at 3:24pm
You would need a magnetic anomaly device of sorts on the aircraft to pick up minute changes in the earths magnetic field caused by a mass of ferromagnetic material and even then I am not sure that would be succesful(not all mines are metallic). Military use them for detecting submarines,trucks in jungles etc and mineral companies use them for detecting ore.

Usually large and heavy.

Thermal imaging may possiblly be a way......
Comment by Jack Crossfire on December 11, 2009 at 3:53pm
A way to detect IED's/landmines from the air which is still viable is not easily found by Goog searches for some reason. Every time someone describes a new IED detection method on a web page, the terrorists figure out how to circumvent it, damn those terrorists. Nowadays it seems to be a matter of constant surveillance of an area for suspicious characters & carrying a lot of missiles to rectify the problem.
Comment by Tom Yochum on December 11, 2009 at 4:20pm
Jack,

I wasn't talking about IEDs or terrorist activity. Just ordinary landmines. There are plenty of countries that have millions of landmines laying about from wars fought many years ago.

Tom
Comment by Xander on December 11, 2009 at 4:23pm
Neat idea. Using conventional tech it might be more practical to use land-based autonomous vehicles. Some small all-terrain vehicles mounted with metal detectors could scour an area looking for mines. Of course then you need to deal with the terrain...which can become problematic depending on the region. Wouldn't be too hard for wide open flat areas.

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Comment by Gary Mortimer on December 11, 2009 at 4:33pm
Funnily enough I find myself something to do with http://www.thesoleofafrica.org.za/ It would be great if the minds here could get their heads around this topic!! I shall tell my chum Kai that theres some interest. Its certainly been on my radar for a while!

Admin
Comment by Morli on December 11, 2009 at 4:36pm
There are currently Robotic mine detectors in use and best I know does not use AP but would be catogorised as RPV
Comment by Tom Yochum on December 11, 2009 at 4:37pm
Nice find Gary! Thanks for sharing!

Admin
Comment by Morli on December 11, 2009 at 4:56pm
Hmm, happy to learn I am wrong , I take back.
Gary, I wonder what has been developed as solution where it says "The Mineseeker Foundation had developed a skillful airborne landmine detection system, with the objective of commercially delivering services to demining companies and governmental bodies. " Any info on airbourne detection system? I could not find more info. Thanks for site.

Moderator
Comment by Sgt Ric on December 11, 2009 at 5:21pm
Just a reminder that you can't rely on metal detectors since a vast majority of these mines are non-ferous.

(Speaking of "vast majority"... a vast majority are american made)

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