According to UNICEF, there are currently over 110 million live land mines buried in the soil of various countries around the world, left over from conflicts that occurred up to 50 years ago. While various organizations are working on locating and removing those mines, it's proving to be a long and laborious process. Instead of precisely pinpointing and then disarming each device, however, one has to wonder ... wouldn't it be easier to just go around thumping on the ground and getting them to go off? Well, it just happens that DIGGER DTR's hulking D-3 robotic vehicle does exactly that.
The remote-controlled track-driven D-3 is capable of triggering mines using either a chain flail or tiller attachment, down to a depth of 25 centimeters (9.8 in). By swapping in standard Caterpillar attachments such as shovels or forks, it can also perform functions such as the clearing of vegetation or debris. Its body is completely steel-plated, and features a V-shaped undercarriage, designed to deflect the force of explosions out to either side. Its mechanical systems, including hydraulics, cooling, and the 173 hp John Deere diesel engine, are easy for field mechanics to access via large hatches - keep in mind, this machine is often used in remote locations, lacking in infrastructure.
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It can reportedly clear all of the mines from an area at a rate of 1,000 square meters (10,764 sq. ft.) an hour.
Operators can control the D-3 from a maximum distance of 500 meters (1,640 ft), although a distance of between 50 to 300 meters (164 to 984 ft) is recommended. An included portable blast shield helps protect the operator from flying shrapnel and debris.
The D-3 has actually been around for a years now, and it's not without its rivals - a very similar vehicle known as the MineWolf has been detonating mines since at least 2008. Both products are made in Switzerland.
Source: IEEE SpectrumView gallery - 12 images