The Clean-up Crew

2004-12-04 16:41:34

I've noticed a spate of interesting new mine-clearing techniques recently -- good ideas, all. Got to keep up with the all of the new and nasty mine-laying techniques that weapons manufacturers are doubtlessly dreaming up: I'm reminded of the Greg Egan novel Teranesia where aircraft dropped multiple-warhead smart mines that would bury themselves, selectively choose targets, and even move around -- underground robot snipers, sorta. Scary shit. Those of us in the USA take it for granted that we're not gonna lose an arm digging in our gardens. Too many people in the rest of the world aren't so lucky.

It makes me wonder if there's an emerging industry in cleaning up the detritus of war. I can't decide if this is a distasteful notion or not -- it's not something that makes me happy, but as I've gotten older I've become convinced that, like the poor, war will always be with us. There's something to be said for doing anything to minimize the deaths and injuries that follow the conflict.

GM cress could seek out landmines
There are believed to be about 100 million unexploded landmines around the world, posing a daily threat to life.

Plants developed by Copenhagen firm Aresa Biodetection are said to turn from green to red when they come in contact with explosives in the soil.

Landmine Detecting Rats
Rats are abundant, cheap and easily transported. At three pounds, they are too light to detonate mines accidentally. They can sift the bouquet of land-mine aromas far better than any machine. Unlike even the best mine-detecting dog or human, they are relentlessly single-minded.

"Throw a stick for a dog to fetch, and after 10 times the dog will say, `Get it yourself, buddy,' " Mr. Weetjens said. "Rats will keep working as long as they want food."

MineWolf Systems offers integrated services around mechanical demining. At the core of its product line stands the MineWolf, a mechanical demining system that fulfils all requirements to revolutionize the way landmines are cleared nowadays.

Due to its toolbox design the MineWolf can be equipped with flail and tiller overcoming limitations of existing applications. It effectively clears AT- as well as AP-mines according to UN mine action standards. With standard commercial attachments, the system can be used for construction, agriculture and forestry.