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Using drones to locate mines: A major step forward in humanitarian demining

Press release | London, 14th November 2019, 13:00 GMT

Humanity & Inclusion and Mobility Robotics have presented data to show how buried landmines were located using drones equipped with infrared cameras. Results were presented at the “Mine Action Technology Workshop” organised by the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) in Basel this week.

Tested in Chad, this technology has the potential to save time and make the work of mine clearance experts safer. It marks a major step forward for humanitarian demining.

"It's a small revolution in the world of humanitarian demining!" says Emmanuel Sauvage, Head of Armed Violence Reduction at Humanity & Inclusion. “For several months, we have been testing the use of drones to locate mines faster in contaminated areas. This marks a new milestone, since it is now possible to locate mines buried in the ground."

John Fardoulis of Mobility Robotics adds: “For us, this is like the equivalent of a first step on the moon, with the first step being a huge one. Further testing will be required to understand the complete range of operating parameters, and we look forward to further trials.”

Testing in Chad

The tests proved that buried anti-tank and antipersonnel mines can be located by measuring differences in temperature using a drone equipped with an infrared camera in a desert environment in northern Chad.

The drone can cover a large area in a much shorter time than deminers on the ground and is expected to significantly benefit a process called "non-technical survey", a first investigation phase to determine the probability of contamination prior to the intervention of deminers and deploying mine clearance resources.

“By accurately locating buried mines, we will now be able to deploy our demining teams in a more targeted and secure way," adds Emmanuel Sauvage. “The next step will be to seek additional resources to beef up our activities, diversify the tests and achieve the target of a mine-free world by 2025.”

As part of the Odyssey2025 Project funded by the Belgian Directorate General for Development Cooperation, Humanity & Inclusion has been testing the use of drones in its mine clearance operations since September 2018. Field trials in legacy minefields have been made possible by the support of the European Union using resources from the PRODECO project in Chad. It is estimated that more than 100 million square metres of land – equivalent to a city the size of Paris – is contaminated by landmines and explosive remnants of war in Chad.

Promising solution for demining challenges

More than 100 million mines are still active in the world today. They pose a deadly threat to local communities, cause fear, mutilate limbs, limit travel, force the abandonment of infrastructure and hamper socio-economic development.

Mines and explosive remnants of war pose a daily threat to civilians in 60 countries worldwide. With 7,239 new victims in 2017, the 2018 Landmine Monitor reported a record number of casualties for the third consecutive year, compared to 9,437 in 2016 and 6,967 in 2015.


Notes

- Interviews with our experts available upon request

- Possibility to organise media media visits with Humanity & Inclusion's team in Chad

Press contact

Marlene Manning, Humanity & Inclusion UK
Email: media.uk@hi.org
Tel: +44 (0)870 774 3737

Humanity & Inclusion in Chad

Since the end of 2018, HI has been implementing demining operations in Chad, supervised by the National High Commission for Demining (HCND), as part of the "Support for Mine Clearance, Development and the Social Protection of Vulnerable People” (PRODECO) development project funded by the European Union and supported by the Chadian government.

The testing of innovative mine clearance methods (Odyssey2025), including the use of drones, geolocation technology and infrared cameras, is supported by the Belgian Directorate General for Development Cooperation, and implemented in the PRODECO operational area.

 

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Email: media.uk@hi.org
Tel.: +44 (0)870 774 3737

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