Autonomous Metal Detector Drone Capable of Detecting Landmines

Metal detector drone could detect landmines autonomously

Detecting Buried Landmines with Drones Equipped with Metal Detectors

Scientists from the Autonomous Systems Lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) have developed a reliable means of detecting buried landmines. Their research team equipped a drone with a metal detector that can be optimally positioned in relation to the ground. The drone can fly over a minefield systematically without triggering the pressure sensors of the landmines.

The researchers used a Voliro T drone, a tricopter with three movable engines that allow it to move in five degrees of freedom. The drone is equipped with a metal detector that must always be correctly aligned with the ground surface. This is done with the help of a lidar system that scans the ground to determine the surface profile, which is then linked to GPS information to obtain an exact position of the surface.

The drone can keep its body stable in the air even when changing direction, allowing the metal detector to be positioned precisely on the ground. The researchers tested the drone with simple metallic, non-explosive objects and were able to prove that the system works on surfaces with obstacles and steep slopes.

However, further research is necessary to determine whether and to what extent the system can be used in reality to detect landmines. The study will be presented at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation 2023 (ICRA) in May.

The Voliro company is a start-up whose origins also lie at the ETH. The drone’s drive with only three motors leaves room for attaching the metal detector, which is automatically positioned for optimal use.

In conclusion, the work being carried out by ETH Zurich in developing an autonomous drone that can detect buried landmines is remarkable. It represents a significant step forward and has the potential to save countless lives in areas affected by mines.

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