Trying To Mitigate Landmines’ Effects

STUDENTS at Worcester Polytechnic Institute have been developing a rover that can detect landmines. Once it does, it paints a square around the suspected mine and sends its GPS coordinates to a drone that can then drop its explosive-detonating payload on the location.

STUDENTS at Worcester Polytechnic Institute have been developing a rover that can detect landmines. Once it does, it paints a square around the suspected mine and sends its GPS coordinates to a drone that can then drop its explosive-detonating payload on the location.

Local Student Part Of Team At Worcester

A local student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts is part of a school team working to create d# urerwlf# v|vwhp# wr# ›qg# dqg safely detonate landmines.

Andrew VanOsten of Natural Bridge, a senior majoring in robotics engineering, is helping the team develop an autonomous rover and payload-deploying drone that work together to search for and detonate landmines.

The multi-year project is being carried out as a Major Qualifying Project (MQP), a graduation requirement for every WPI student. MQPs are team-based design or research projects in a student’s field of study that provide professional-level experience working on real problems and technologies.

Each year, landmines planted during wartime across fields and backyards and around critical water sources kill or maim an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people zruogzlgh/#rqh#lq#›yh#ri#wkhp children, according to UNICEF. Local citizens, unable to afford massive mine detonating machines, use ineffective and dangerous methods to detect the landmines, from slowly poking the ground around them with long sticks to training large, leashed rats to sniff out explosives.

“Landmines are a huge issue worldwide,” said Craig Putnam, senior instructor of computer science at WPI. “They are laid during wars, exw# orqj# diwhu# wkrvh# frqÚlfwv end, the mines continue to kill and injure people. Mines can stay active, and deadly, for up wr#›yh#ghfdghv/#vr#›qglqj#dqg clearing them is critical.”

Under Putnam’s guidance, a series of student teams working over the past three years have developed the dual-function robotics system: the autonomous rover to detect and mark the mines and the drone that can drop payloads onto the mines to safely detonate them.

This robotics system being developed at WPI, according to Putnam, could be an effective but more affordable option for landowners, towns, and villages.

The News-Gazette

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