This week the Landmines Team meets to discuss the possible outcomes, scenarios, and challenges they face in creating a drone that can effectively seek out and destroy dormant landmines.
Over the last few weeks, the Landmines Team came up with various situations and scenarios in which their landmine detection and detonation drone could be used. Ken Rutherford, the groups mentor, originally pitched the problem of landmine detection and detonation to them in parts of Southeast Asia, such as Laos or Cambodia as their primary target of landmine scenario. While they understand the severity of the situation in those parts, they have also thought of other ways in which our drone could be used.
The Landmines Team want to use their drone to detect landmines in other nations that have experienced war-torn climates in the past such as Pakistan or Russia in addition to the developing nations Ken mentioned. Perhaps not on a global scale, the team thought their drone could help maybe even the President of the United States by scouting ahead of any territory they are traveling on and ensuring it is safe to cross and free of any hidden explosives. Similar to that, the drone could be used in securing large gatherings and might be used by the police for crowd control.
In each of these scenarios, the team members played around with the idea of working with two drones. One for detection (finding the landmine) and the other for detonation (destroying the landmine). For the drone’s attachments, they want to interchange them to detect different types of landmines which may be made of different types of materials. As they learned from Ken, not all drones are made of metal, and in some cases may be made of plastic or another non-detectable material.
Because the problem of landmines is complex and varied, they’ll need to create a flexible and versatile solution. Some of these solutions could include microwave dishes, magnetometer (to measure the magnetic strength of a landmine), GPR (ground penetrating radar, to ensure the landmines are accurately and effectively detected), or any other types of spectrometers (used to measure light wavelengths) in order for their drone to better tackle the problem at hand.
While they have a lot of scenarios they want to pan out and have different attachments to those drones for those different situations, there are definitely a myriad of challenges they face before their drone can become a reality.
One of the challenges from the get-go is pinpointing where exactly the drone will be actively used. And when the team asks that question, they really want to know in what situation will their drone be most efficient and effective. Another challenge is the fact that each year newer and better technology emerges, which might render the drone obsolete in a few years. As such, they’ll have to figure out how to keep up with the ever changing landscape of landmine technology and detonation devices.
On a more micro-level, the team is trying to figure out how many drones – one or two – will be most effective. Adding onto that, they will need to find materials that are cheap yet reliable in detecting and detonating landmines. Finally, they felt that in order for us to fruitfully create our drone, they have to determine the overall scope of our project – time, budget, and resources at hand.