Land-mine detection project earns first place at Create the Future contest

February 6, 2019, Binghamton University
Jasper Baur is a junior studying geology at Binghamton University, State University of New York. Credit: Binghamton University, State University of New York

Jasper Baur and William Frazer, students at Binghamton University, State University of New York, won first place in the aerospace and defense category at the Create the Future Technology design contest for their project which uses drones to locate dangerous landmines.

Frazer—a senior studying geophysics—teamed up with Baur—a junior studying geology—to enter the international Create the Future technology design contest, which allows people to submit ideas that stimulate and reward engineering and technological innovation.

Baur and Frazer's research focuses on plastic land-mine detection. Their submission used thermal technology to detect plastic in countries such as Afghanistan, where land mines were used as a military tactic.

"Our submission was a description of how we attach thermal cameras to drones and fly over to detect plastic land mines based on heat differences between the surrounding environment and the mine," Baur said.

Land mines are explosives that are concealed underground and used to destroy or disable enemies and their machinery. Baur and Frazer's research focused on PMF1 land mines, which were a Soviet design used in the Soviet Union's war in Afghanistan in the late 20th century.

The PMF1 explosives are set off when they reach a certain pressure point and are especially difficult to detect because they are made out of plastic.

Drones could be used to detect dangerous 'butterfly' landmines in remote regions of post-conflict countries, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York. Credit: Binghamton University, State University of New York
"Their entire bodies are made out of plastic, where the more traditional land mine has some sort of metallic casing that can be detected with electromagnetic methods very easily," Frazer said. "They are also difficult to find because a land mine can be as small as your iPhone, or even smaller."

Baur and Fazer worked with Alex Nikulin, assistant professor of geological sciences, and Timothy de Smet, research assistant professor with Binghamton's Freshman Research Immersion program.

Though they won the contest, this is just the beginning of Baur and Frazer's research.

Jasper Baur is a senior studying geophysics at Binghamton University, State University of New York. Credit: Binghamton University, State University of New York
"The end goal is to develop a full system that can be deployed to detect these land mines," Frazer said. "The next step is to figure out an automated methodology to detect them. Right now, they are not automatically detected; you have to manually look at the data to find them. So we are looking into doing supervised and unsupervised machine learning to detect them."

Explore further: Drones could be used to detect dangerous 'butterfly' landmines in post-conflict regions

Related Stories

New technology for land mine detection

March 18, 2016

In Colombia, large areas are teeming with mines that are almost impossible to detect with traditional methods. In collaboration with partners from South America, engineers at the German Ruhr-Universität Bochum and Technical ...

Old mines cast a long shadow on their surroundings

December 18, 2018

Local stakeholders need more information than is currently available to them on the impacts of former mining activities on ground water and surface water, potential soil contamination, and the safety of natural products, ...

Detecting land mines with sound

January 23, 2007

Researchers at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory are developing a highly pinpointed sound beam that can detect buried land mines from a safe distance. The new beam will use sound to seek out land mines like a bat uses sonar to hunt ...

Recommended for you

Observation of quantized heating in quantum matter

February 19, 2019

Shaking a physical system typically heats it up, in the sense that the system continuously absorbs energy. When considering a circular shaking pattern, the amount of energy that is absorbed can potentially depend on the orientation ...

Sound waves let quantum systems 'talk' to one another

February 18, 2019

Researchers at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory have invented an innovative way for different types of quantum technology to "talk" to each other using sound. The study, published Feb. 11 in Nature ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.