Landmine detection using a Neutron Generator
The current state of practice for detecting and removing landmines is known as “man with a stick”. Other solutions include the use of dogs. All current methods are extremely time-intensive and dangerous.
The fundamental problem is that modern landmines consist mainly of plastic and explosives, no metal. Therefore, metal detection methods are not very useful.
We are facing:
- Current cost of a single landmine: $5
- Current cost to remove one landmine: $300 – $1,000
- Estimated number of landmines planted each year: 2,000,000
The University of Wisconsin, Madison has been developing neutron source generators for many years. The current challenge is to reduce the generators from 100kg to about 10kg. Ten kilograms is sufficiently light enough to be easily mounted onto a rotary wing drone.
Drones offer the unprecedented ability to hover or slowly move above a minefield or along a road without triggering the mines or IEDs. A generator mounted on a drone will activate the nitrogen within the mine to produce gamma rays. The position of the mine is then triangulated by three other drones that are carrying gamma ray detectors. Software then produces a very accurate map of all the mines in the minefield. This allows for removal of the landmines using conventional methods.