Crowdsweeper: The Made in Germany Landmine-Locating Drone

Crowdsweeper drone

A group of young German students is working on a drone that can help clear landmines quickly, cost-effectively, and with less danger to human life. 

Autor*in Ana Galán Herranz, 12.04.17

A group of young German students is working on a drone that can help clear landmines quickly, cost-effectively, and with less danger to human life.

There are an estimated 110 million landmines on the ground in more than 70 countries worldwide. According to Landmine Monitor, after steadily decreasing over the past few years, 2015 saw a sharp rise again, with nearly 6,500 mines killed or maimed. And alongside the human dimension, mines are also an economic problem: removing just one mine costs around 50 more times it does to produce it. And of course, they pose a huge risk to the deminers: for every 5000 mines that are successfully removed, one deminer is killed and two injured.

Landmines are considered one of the most effective “soldiers” in the world: they are hidden, they remain active without needing any maintenance, and are latent until someone steps on top of them. The work to get rid of them is a long process currently, carried out by groups of experts that, risking their own lives, need to carry out thorough checks of large areas.

Crowdsweeper is a German-based project that has an different and innovative solutions to the problem of – clearing land of explosives, that are right now causing human casualties, not only among the experts who are removing them but also civilians.

Crowdsweeper: A Low-Flying Metal Detector

Similarly to the Dutch Mine Kafon project that we reported on earlier this year, Crowdsweeper is a drone that can scan an area from the sky and detect and mark any possible mines – by searching for metal objects using an in-built metal detector. Once the area has been marked, a specialist can then enter the area to deactivate the mines. Additionally, the device tracks and records all of the data it has collected. Developed by a team of students from the Otto von Guericke University in Magdeburg, Germany, this technology makes the process not only faster but also safer.

The Crowdsweeper device went into development a year ago and the creators are hoping to work with sponsors – both private individuals and companies – that will be supporting the real world application of the drones. The idea is for each sponsor to be able to “adopt” a drone, and via an online platform, check what the device is doing, and receive feedback on what impact their donation has had. The project was recently a runner up for Germany’s Ecodesign award.

These two drone projects are showing that the use of new technologies can not just reduce the economic costs of removing landmines – but can also make a much bigger saving too: a human life.

To see the Crowdsweeper on its first test flight, take a look at the video below.

To find out more about how drones all over the world are doing good – from healthcare to peacekeeping and everything in between – check out our RESET special, Drones and Satellites for Good.

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