Good Thinking

VENUS tech more accurately detects mines by giving them a buzz

VENUS tech more accurately det...
Conventional landmine-detection technologies (pictured) often identify other buried objects as mines
Conventional landmine-detection technologies (pictured) often identify other buried objects as mines
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Conventional landmine-detection technologies (pictured) often identify other buried objects as mines
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Conventional landmine-detection technologies (pictured) often identify other buried objects as mines
An x-ray image of a VS-50 antipersonnel landmine, showing the metal components within
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An x-ray image of a VS-50 antipersonnel landmine, showing the metal components within

The excavation and disposal of landmines is a time- and labor-intensive business, so it can be quite a waste of resources if the detected object is not actually a mine. A new system could help, by reducing the number of mine-hunting errors.

Currently, most landmine-detection technologies work by detecting the electromagnetic signature that's passively emitted by the mine. Unfortunately, though, other buried metal objects – or even patches of wet or magnetic soil – have similar signatures, to the extent that they're often mistaken for mines.

That's where the US Army's VENUS (Vibration-ENhanced Underground Sensing) system comes in. It is being developed via a partnership between the Army Research Office (ARO), North Carolina State University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and defense tech company Vadum, Inc.

An x-ray image of a VS-50 antipersonnel landmine, showing the metal components within
An x-ray image of a VS-50 antipersonnel landmine, showing the metal components within

The setup sends a pulsed magnetic field down into the soil, which causes the small metal parts within a mine to vibrate in a distinct manner. It is those vibrations that are detected by the VENUS device's high dynamic range vibrometer. According to the ARO, most other buried objects either don't respond to the magnetic field, or if they do, their vibrations are much different than those produced by mines.

As part of a two-year project, the designers will now be working on miniaturizing and ruggedizing the technology, and on collecting vibrational data from landmines in a variety of soil conditions.

"New concepts are rare in the area of landmine detection," says ARO program manager, Dr. James Harvey. "This advance has the potential to be a game changer."

Source: Army Research Laboratory

1 comment
aki009
While this is plaudable, active detectors are a bad idea as they give away the act of clearing mines. It won't be that difficult to add an anti-clearing feature to mines specifically tuned to going off in the presence of this device. (Naturally the evolution of this would be mine clearing from a distance by emulating this device to trigger any mines that are sensitive to it.)