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?