Minesweepers: Towards a Landmine-Free World
Detection and removal of antipersonnel landmines is, at the present time, a serious problem of political, economical, environmental and humanitarian dimension in many countries over the world. It is estimated that there are 110 million landmines in the ground right now; one for every 52 inhabitants of the planet. These mines kill or maim more than 5,000 people annually. If demining efforts remain about the same as they are now, and no new mines are laid, it will still take 1100 years to get rid of all the world’s active land mines. The conventional methods which are currently used make the procedure of removing this great numbers of landmines very slow, inefficient, dangerous and costly. Robotics systems can provide efficient, reliable, adaptive and cost effective solution for the problem of the landmines and UXOs contamination.
In order to foster robotics research and its applications in the area of humanitarian demining in the world, the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society – Egypt Chapter (Winner of 2012 Chapter of the Year Award in IEEE Region 8) organizes Minesweepers: Towards a Landmine-free World as the first international outdoor robotic competition on humanitarian demining. It aims at raising the public awareness of the seriousness of the landmines and UXOs contamination and the role of science and technology in solving this problem and motivates professors, engineers and students working on innovative solutions for this serious problem.
In this competition, each participating team constructed a teleoperated/autonomous unmanned ground/aerial vehicle that should be able to search for underground anti-personnel mines and aboveground unexploded ordnances. The position and the type of each detected object were visualized and overlaid on the minefield map. The robot had to be able to navigate through rough terrain that mimics a real minefield. This paper describes this competition, discusses the motivation behind it and summarizes the lessons learnt from this initiative.
A special version of the competition entitled Junior Minesweepers is dedicated to primary and secondary school students.
Minesweepers: Towards a Landmine-free World is sponsored and hosted this year by the German University in Cairo (GUC). The competition is supported by Executive Secretariat for the Demining & Development of the North West Coast, Ministry of International Cooperation, Mines Action & Human Rights Foundation and Protection Against Armaments & Consequences and African Robotics Network (AFRON).
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