For the first time in the history of humanitarian mine action, drones have been used with Infra-Red in a real-life setting to facilitate mine clearance operations. This two year project was led by Humanity & Inclusion (HI) and its partners Mobility Robotics and FlyingLabs Côte d’Ivoire.
Since 2019, HI and its partners have been working in Chad using drone technology to identify landmines and map hazardous areas. To achieve this, HI's team used drones to take photos and capture video footage to enable deminers to inspect unreachable locations and identify hazards on the surface. Experts then created high-resolution maps to study signs of contamination such as craters or traces of landmine accidents involving animals or vehicles.
HI achieved a world-first in humanitarian mine action when our teams used a thermal sensor flown on a drone to locate buried antipersonnel and anti-vehicle landmines in desert minefields.
The project did not come without its challenges. Remote locations, road hazards, extreme heat (up to 51°C!), sandstorms, food and water difficulties, scorpions, and the risks related to landmines and explosive ordnances were among the daily challenges for our teams. In addition, for our teams to reach the hazardous areas from the base they had to embark on travel which sometimes took more than 36 hours!
From March 2019 to March 2021...
- 100+ drone missions took place in 65 locations
- More than 35 polygons and 30 linear km of strip minefields were mapped
- More than 2500 landmines were located with the thermal sensor
- Dozens of nights were spent in the desert under the stars
- 6 Chadian deminers were trained to operate small drones
We would like to thank the donors, The Belgian Directorate-General Development and the European Union and the people of the Haut Commissariat National de Déminage au Tchad for making this innovative project possible.