An innovative design for mine disposal has been invented by Massoud Hassani called Mine Kafon…then he did it again with a drone. The Mine Kafon is a device, similar in appearance to a tumbleweed, that can roll over the ground feeling around for landmines. The device itself looks like a ball with dozens of plungers protruding from the center with plastic discs attached to their plunger ends. As ridiculous as it may seem it is quite effective at triggering the mines but it only lasts for 3-4 blasts before it needs new legs. The reason is because the legs are made of bamboo and the discs are made of plastic, both biodegradable. You may think, “Why not make their materials stronger so the mine can be used more often?” Unfortunately this would be counterproductive.
While the core of the detector is reused the bamboo keeps the Mine Kafon light enough to move in pure tumbleweed fashion yet heavy enough to set off the mines. It is based on similar wind powered devices and due to the low cost (~€40) it would be ideal for poorer communities that can’t afford the more expensive contemporary methods. Its biodegradable component will also be quite useful for the overused components or those that are left behind, never to be retrieved. But in the videos it was still a prototype. They needed funding to bring it to the next stage and this is where their Kickstarter began.
Throughout 2012 the Mine Kafon was featured throughout tech media and even had a TED talk. This helped to give it a wider audience for their funding. Their initial Kickstarter was designed to help create an improved version which can then be deployed to actual minefields. Massoud specifically stated that he wanted to help demine the areas around Kabul, Afghanistan which was his hometown. Thankfully the Mine Kafon had a goal of £100,000 and managed to succeed. So what’s next? Apparently drones.
After a two year break Massoud came back to Kickstarter with a brand new project. This time we were introduced to the Mine Kafon Drone, a floating mine disposal system. It follows a basic idea that a drone, hovering around a general area, can demine it more safely than existing methods. The way it works is a 3 step program:
- The drone, equipped with a detachable arm, first uses a device to generate a 3-D map of the area that needs to be demined.
- A mine detector is attached to detect mines and plot a GPS map
- The drone then switches the detector with a robotic arm that places detonators on top of mines so they can be destroyed safely.
According to Massoud this makes the drones 20 times faster than traditional technologies, safer and up to 200 times cheaper. Their Kickstarter this time is aimed at moving the drone from prototype to fully operational models capable of going through testing before field deployment. Their €70,000 goal this time was easily surpassed at €177,456. He also met a €130,000 goal to utilize hydrogen cell batteries in the drones however his €190,000 goal of increasing detection sensitivity was not met. As of the current timeline he plans to deploy the drone to real minefields by July 2017. His new stated goal is, “…to solve the landmine problems within 10 years.” This drone is the tool he plans to use to achieve this goal. Keep him in mind for an award world; he’s making it safe for the rest of us.