3 April 2012 | EN
The device as tested with the help of the Dutch army
Courtesy of Massoud Hassani
[AMSTERDAM] An Afghan designer has developed a wind-powered device that could substantially lower the risk to human life and financial cost of clearing landmines.
The 'Mine Kafon' was created by Massoud Hassani, who is based at the Design Academy Eindhoven, The Netherlands.
Built out of inexpensive, prefabricated materials, the device consists of a heavy plastic core containing a GPS (global positioning system) tracker, which is attached to bamboo sticks with plastic feet at each end that enable it to 'walk'.
All it needs is a windy day to move across a minefield, Hassani explained.
"If it hits a mine, [the mine] will explode," said Hassani, adding that if the device is damaged or destroyed, the cost of repairing or replacing it is far lower than traditional mine clearing approaches.
"One Mine Kafon costs US$40, which is a lot less than the US$1,000 currently spent on removing a single mine," he said.
The onboard GPS means the device can map areas that have been cleared of mines.
The Mine Kafon has been nominated for a Design of the Year award at the Design Museum in London, United Kingdom.
Hassani has had his device tested free of charge by the Dutch Ministry of Defense, which found it was not without flaws.
Hans van der Slik, commanding officer at the school for Explosive Ordinance Disposal — which worked with Hassani during testing, said "the current design is not suitable for actual mine removal. The United Nations requires a 98 per cent clearance of affected areas, and to reach that other techniques are more reliable".
"However, I can see a role for the Mine Kafon as a scouting tool," van der Slik added, "to see if a suspected area is indeed a mine field".
He has discussed necessary alterations with Hassani, who is now working on a second version.
The details are confidential, but are expected to make the device more steady and able to systematically cover a suspect area, rather than relying on wind direction.
It has potential for landmine identification and clearing operations, according to Tamar Gabelnick, policy director for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), a global network based in Geneva, Switzerland.
Gabelnick said an estimated 70 million mines are planted around the world, with the majority in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia and Iraq.
"What the ICBL and our members, many of whom are humanitarian mine clearance organisations, are focused on is not the financial cost of clearing landmines but the humanitarian and socio-economic cost of not clearing them," Gabelnick said.
"We welcome research and development into clearance, but unfortunately no new developments to date provide a magic solution."
See below for a lecture about Hassani's invention:
Laurel Anne Hill ( Minds Clearing Landmines | United States of America )
3 April 2012
Thank you for this comprehensive article on the Mine Kafon. You've answered some of the questions I've had about that device. I'm glad work on version two is underway. Regarding the estimated number of landmines planted around the world: Is the 70 million figure (rather than the 100-110 million I've read elsewhere) due to success in landmine removal? (From Laurel Anne Hill, Moderator of the "Minds Clearing Land Mines" WordPress Blog)
Thirst.for.Knowledge. ( India )
11 April 2012
Please do kindly keep me updated with the latest information about version two of Mine Kafon. Thanks. Warm Regards.
Ian Caldwell ( United Kingdom )
13 April 2012
Who planted all those wretched landmines in the first place? They should be banned!
M. Asghar ( France )
2 May 2012
All of these 70 million or so mines, who built them, sold them and planted them in different places? Find them, bring to justice and make them for the damage caused by them. Otherwise we shall continue going in circles without any result.
Alison Tottenham ( www.tigergreen.co.uk | United Kingdom )
14 January 2013
Given that the mines are there, we have to deal with them. This excellent design hits all the buttons: cheap and effective; easily constructed of locally available materials in the areas where its deployment is needed; and equally easily repaired and re-used. By all means let us try to stop guerillas and armies from deploying mines in the first place. But effective and quick removal of mines is probably the best form of deterrent that we have!
sethstats ( Canada )
15 January 2013
It is good to hear that the device is going to include a GPS because as it stands there are many problems with this approach. The author of this article built a simulation of the kafons and their effectiveness. http://www.singularityweblog.com/mine-kafon-harnessing-wind-to-clear-landmines/
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