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3D ‘smart camera’ landmine detection research wins NGO funding

Thu 30 Jul 2015

Researchers at the University of Bath have been awarded financial backing to further develop its new 3D camera technology for detecting landmines.

The project has received £100,000 in funding from Sir Bobby Charlton’s charity, ‘Find a Better Way’, after entering a competition run by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

“The UN estimates that it would take more than 1,100 years to clear the estimated 110 million landmines situated in 70 countries,” said Charlton. “As a charity we are determined to find a practicable technology solution that can bring an end to this humanitarian tragedy.”

Modern landmines are typically made from plastic, rendering traditional metal detection methods irrelevant. The Bath University researchers are investigating ways to combine metal detection with the latest 3D camera and imaging systems in order to detect all types of landmines using one technology.

“Currently, manual metal detectors sweep minefields in a slow and time-consuming process which cannot detect non-metallic landmines,” said Dr Manuchehr Soleimani, associate professor in Bath University’s department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering and head of its Engineering Tomography Lab (ETL).

“We aim to develop an integrated technology to detect both metallic and non-metallic landmines and to improve the speed and reliability of this process,” he added.

The combined technology involves two arrays so that older metal landmines can be detected at the same time as newer plastic models.

According to the University, these newer mines can be manufactured for as little as £2, whereas the cost to remove them ranges from £120 to £600.

The research team will work on the new technology over the next three years and hope to “develop a compact, low cost version of this combined smart camera.”

“It is exciting to see early positive results from this important, life-saving research which could really benefit people and communities around the world,” commented Professor Gary Hawley, Dean of Bath University’s Faculty of Engineering and Design.

Earlier this year aerial imaging firm Arch Aerial also announced their plans to aid in the fight against destructive landmines. The company is using a drone and remote laser technology called LIDAR to analyse terrains and identify areas where landmines are likely to be uncovered.

As the University of Bath teams up with Charlton’s ‘Find a Better Way’ charity, Arch Aerial will also begin testing its landmine detection drones this year in collaboration with a humanitarian NGO in Laos – the world’s most heavily bombed country.

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