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Minesweepers Robotic Competition Aims For a Landmine-Free World

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the sweep-and-clear dept.

Robotics 103

Hallie Siegel (2973169) writes in with news of a robotic competition with some serious goals. "Dr. Alaa Khamis writes: 'Detection and removal of antipersonnel landmines is, at present, a serious problem of political, economical, environmental and humanitarian dimensions in many countries across the world. It is estimated that there are 110 million landmines in the ground right now; one for every 52 inhabitants on 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 because current conventional methods of removal are very slow, inefficient, dangerous and costly. Robotic systems can provide efficient, reliable, adaptive and cost effective solutions for the problem of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination. Minesweepers: Towards a Landmine-free World was initiated in 2012 as the first international outdoor robotic competition on humanitarian demining by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society – Egypt Chapter, which won the Chapter of the Year Award in IEEE Region 8 that year. It aims to raise public awareness of the seriousness of landmines and UXO contamination and the role of science and technology in addressing these; it also aims to foster robotics research in the area of humanitarian demining by motivating professors, engineers and students to work on innovative solutions for this serious problem."

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Top tier used diapers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46863667)

On sale now!

what happened to the Russian plan? (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 5 months ago | (#46864801)

namely walk a platoon of troops through the minefield? sure could use that in Ukraine right now...

Subjects suck. (1)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about 5 months ago | (#46863673)

It is estimated that there are 110 million landmines in the ground right now; one for every 52 inhabitants on the planet.

52 (people/mine) * 110 million (mines) = 5.72 billion people. Unless there's been a recent disaster that killed off more than a billion people that I didn't hear about, I think their math's a little off.

Re:Subjects suck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46863785)

A bunch of them stepped on landmines.

The ratio used to be worse, but the disaster was harder on the mines than the people.

Re:Subjects suck. (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 5 months ago | (#46863787)

Unless there's been a recent disaster that killed off more than a billion people that I didn't hear about,

. . . like, them all stepping on landmines . . . ?

Re:Subjects suck. (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 5 months ago | (#46863869)

A billion of us don't have landmines assigned to us.

Unfortunately, we don't know which billion.

He's hoping!

Re:Subjects suck. (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 5 months ago | (#46865821)

...A billion of us don't have landmines assigned to us yet...

But they are busy producing and planting them as fast as possible. And the new models are best, the way they leap 3 ft into the air, then send a bunch of shrapnel in a circular horizontal plane. Delightful.

Re:Subjects suck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46866107)

He's hoping!

Hopping?

A Vital Gift To The Future (2)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 5 months ago | (#46864983)

203 years from now when there are no more fossil fuels and the sky is scorched black from pollution, these landmines will be the sole source of energy for the remaining humans --- err Morlocks --- an each one will be treasured for the precious contents.

It is our gift to future generations to package these valuable energy resources into tidy metal containers that we so thoughtfully buried for the benefit of future generations.

test material (4, Funny)

bugs2squash (1132591) | about 5 months ago | (#46863681)

so do they plan to mail out kits with land mines for us to test with ?

Re:test material (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46863809)

Are you stupid, or trying to be funny?

There are "material equivalent" items that look similar, but have none of the internals or functionality. Commonly known as "dummy mines"...

Re:test material (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46865121)

We've got a few laying around just gathering dust. I've signed you up for a few million, hope it isn't a problem. Even if you don't need them all they still make excellent gifts for all your lawyer friends.

Re:test material (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46865893)

???
?8?
???

Your move

Re:test material (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about 5 months ago | (#46867235)

A curious game.

Re:test material (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 5 months ago | (#46868081)

so do they plan to mail out kits with land mines for us to test with ?

They do actually have test landmines that are basically the primer and detonator with no explosive. Trigger them and they "blow up" in that they release a burst of compressed air

When buried in a test sandpit, the "explosions" from them kick up a fair bit of sand, making it easy to see when they've been detonated. Depending on the minesweeper design, this may or may not be a desirable outcome (some designs intentionally trigger the landmine rather than try to find them for defusing. Of course, such designs are generally also evaluated to see if they're designed to be sacrificial, and to see if the original mission may be fulfilled to a lesser capacity - some designs are meant to be cheap and if they destroy more than one, bonus).

Re:test material (1)

Toad-san (64810) | about 5 months ago | (#46869547)

Actually they're readily available, even in civilian circles:

http://www.inertproducts.com/i... [inertproducts.com]

The above site is HUGELY overpriced, of course; the mine manufacturers could put out inert mines very cheaply if they wished. Most armed forces already have them, used for mine warfare training all the time.

But there may be other and better solutions. Not necessarily the goats in another comment, but maybe things like honeybees:

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/ar... [wired.co.uk]

5000 people annually (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 5 months ago | (#46863759)

That's not a lot. According to wolframalpha, 58 million people die every year. Given this percentage, is minesweeping even cost-effective, or is it more of a charity pump/drain?

Re:5000 people annually (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 months ago | (#46863881)

Given 5000 deaths per year and 110 million mines, we'd be better off ignoring them. Most of the mines would decay into uselessness long before they killed someone (at the current death rate, in a century, 99% of the mines will not have been stepped on, and that's ignoring the fact that the mines won't last a century.).

Making mines ineffective ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 5 months ago | (#46863963)

Given 5000 deaths per year and 110 million mines, we'd be better off ignoring them. Most of the mines would decay into uselessness long before they killed someone (at the current death rate, in a century, 99% of the mines will not have been stepped on, and that's ignoring the fact that the mines won't last a century.).

Except that developing the tech to clear existing mine fields efficiently may help when some idiot in the future lays a bunch of new mines. Ideally developing the tech would make traditional mines so ineffective no one would bother using them, but such a notion may be a bit optimistic. However expecting treaties banning mines to end the use of mines may be even more optimistic.

Develop the tech, it will probably have numerous other uses too.

Re:Making mines ineffective ... (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 months ago | (#46864065)

The real problem is that, knowing that that field over there is a minefield, sweeping it with 99% efficiency means it is still completely unsafe for anyone to walk across.

The only way you can clear a minefield and guarantee that the field is safe is to know exactly how many mines are in the area, and search till you find them all. Which means accepting the cost in both money and lives to keep going till you've ticked off each mine.

Note that knowing the exact number of mines in an area is pretty much impossible for anything other than a test field for this technology.

Ideally developing the tech would make traditional mines so ineffective no one would bother using them,

Not going to happen. If I'm at war and defending a position, a minefield makes a lot of sense. And the machineguns, rocket launchers, artillery, etc I have in or covering the position can be used to blow up your minesweeper robots. It'll even help a bit, by giving my guys something to do to keep alert (blowing up robots is always fun).

And once the war is over, well, good luck determining exactly how many mines are in the area still, since some will have been detonated during the war, and lord knows the grunts in the area don't have time to remember mine detonations....

Seriously, the tech is interesting, and should be developed. But it won't magically render mines useless, nor will it render areas known to contain mines safe. Unless it's 100% effective at finding mines. And you'll only know that by letting people use the (former) minefield and seeing how many of them get blown into next week....

Re:Making mines ineffective ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46864379)

The real problem is that, knowing that that field over there is a minefield, sweeping it with 99% efficiency means it is still completely unsafe for anyone to walk across.

With that definition of unsafe you should move into a cave since you can never be completely safe from meteorites.

This is very comparable to the situation Germany is in. It still has hundreds of thousands of undetonated bombs that were dropped during WWII around. It kills about ten construction workers every year.
They are never going to be completely sure that all the bombs are gone but that doesn't mean that it isn't worthwhile to try to detect and get rid of the bombs.

Re:Making mines ineffective ... (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about 5 months ago | (#46867257)

Dude, if you put 100 mines on a football pitch and then removed 99 of them, I would not play on that football pitch. And I am not what you'd typically call risk-averse.

Re:Making mines ineffective ... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 months ago | (#46865297)

The only way you can clear a minefield and guarantee that the field is safe is to know exactly how many mines are in the area, and search till you find them all. Which means accepting the cost in both money and lives to keep going till you've ticked off each mine.

The answer is to make the nation that placed the mines responsible for clearing the mines. Implementing this is an exercise for all nations which give a fuck about human life.

Re:Making mines ineffective ... (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 months ago | (#46866709)

The answer is to make the nation that placed the mines responsible for clearing the mines.

That'll go real well...

So, country X invades your country. You drive them back, and make peace. Then you invite them back to clear the minefields they laid in the war. And they decide to stay (and lay more mines)....

Or hasn't anyone ever explained that most people don't like the idea of large numbers of enemy troops in their country, even for an ostensibly good reason?

Re:Making mines ineffective ... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 months ago | (#46866755)

Or hasn't anyone ever explained that most people don't like the idea of large numbers of enemy troops in their country, even for an ostensibly good reason?

You don't let them have arms or uniforms.

And soon, they won't have legs.

Personally, I favor forcing them to use random citizens.

Unfortunately, that means I'd be out sweeping the USA's mines.

Re:5000 people annually (1)

careysub (976506) | about 5 months ago | (#46864841)

Given 5000 deaths per year and 110 million mines, we'd be better off ignoring them. Most of the mines would decay into uselessness long before they killed someone (at the current death rate, in a century, 99% of the mines will not have been stepped on, and that's ignoring the fact that the mines won't last a century.).

You sure about how long mines will (not) last?

A fair number are modern mines consisting of sealed plastic cases and modern military explosives that are stable and waterproof. These could easily last more than a century, particularly in a dry climate like Somalia (which happens to be the most heavily mined country). In fact it is not clear why these mines would ever stop working.

Re:5000 people annually (1)

careysub (976506) | about 5 months ago | (#46864867)

Oops - editing era (accidental list deletion). That should read: "These could easily last more than a century, particularly in a dry climate like Somalia, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Angola, Iran and Egypt (which happens to be the most heavily mined country)."

Re:5000 people annually (1)

jabuzz (182671) | about 5 months ago | (#46866247)

Dry climate has nothing to do with it. Unexploded ordnance from WWI on the former western front

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I... [wikipedia.org]

We are talking hundreds of tonnes of the stuff a year, and I would guess exceeds the total tonnage of landmines every few years, and that is just the stuff being dug up.

Re:5000 people annually (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 months ago | (#46866581)

Oops - editing era (accidental list deletion).

Hmm, seems you have an editing error in your "editing era"....

Re:5000 people annually (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#46865347)

I'd expect a mine like you describe would stop working for trigger reasons. The trigger has to work, no matter how stable and waterproof the payload, if the trigger doesn't work, no boom.

If I were tasked with clearing mines, I'd use large masers to sweep the ground and spoil or detonate any ordinance in the ground. How powerful are mines? Why wouldn't a road roller be able to find them by detonating them, while remaining safe to operate and reusable? Seems odd to me that a "small" anti-personnel mine would destroy a 50,000 lb armored steamroller.

Re:5000 people annually (1)

dave420 (699308) | about 5 months ago | (#46866421)

That's fine for places in which a 23-ton vehicle can drive, and if your guess that rolling over a landmine won't destroy the vehicle enough to cause a 23-ton wreck. For other places, that is clearly not an option.

Re:5000 people annually (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46866483)

How powerful are mines? Why wouldn't a road roller be able to find them by detonating them, while remaining safe to operate and reusable?

I've read somewhere (although I can't find a reference) that modern anti-personnel mines won't trigger under a heavy load (from a armored car, steamroller, etc). They would only trigger when the pressure is what you'd expect from a human stepping on them. Of course, there's also the possibility that a steamroller, even if it didn't trigger the bomb, could break it's components and render it non-functional. But given that steamrollers aren't the tool of choice to clear mined fields, there must be a good explanation...

Re:5000 people annually (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about 5 months ago | (#46866527)

Vehicles are only useful as clearers where anti-personnel mines are used. If you even suspect that anti-vehicular mines are present then you can't use vehicles safely.

Re:5000 people annually (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about 5 months ago | (#46867293)

I never understood this either, and I'd like to know the answer. Given your options are (a) send a human being in to try and carefully remove each mine, risking getting blown up in the process, or (b) just send in some hardened version of this thing [wikimedia.org] , you'd think (b) would be the better option.

Re:5000 people annually (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#46871085)

That'd work, but I was thinking of the http://www.dreamstime.com/roya... [dreamstime.com] ones.

Whatever works faster and most areas is cheapest to clear them. Perhaps simple enough for locals to use to clear the mines themselves.

Re:5000 people annually (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 months ago | (#46869527)

Why wouldn't a road roller be able to find them by detonating them, while remaining safe to operate and reusable? Seems odd to me that a "small" anti-personnel mine would destroy a 50,000 lb armored steamroller.

What you're describing was developed as a mine-clearance variant of the Sherman tank in WW2. Actually, several variants (one big roller, several smaller rollers, etc).

It's useful, but too easy to counter. Set one mine in twenty to delayed detonation, and you lose a lot of mine clearance vehicles.

Re:5000 people annually (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#46871017)

Easy to counter if you are trying to. It seems many of the mines in the ground are old. I expect they didn't do that. Also, the means of delaying a detonation add delicateness. Why cripple your mines with delicate triggers?

Re:5000 people annually (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 5 months ago | (#46863923)

As best I can tell, 0.00862% is a rounding error.

It's almost exactly 100x less than the rate that women die as a complication of pregnancy (0.89%) -- a number that basic 3rd world maternal care could probably cut in half. [I get that *delivering* said care is a challenge, and infrastructure sucks, but these challenges exist in land mine clearing parts of the world as well.]

Heck. 10x as many people die from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]

Re:5000 people annually (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46863941)

You want to bring up cost effective? Well fuck you, economics should have ZERO argument in this issue. Clean the fucking things up.

It's called Doing the Right goddamn thing.

Re:5000 people annually (2)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 months ago | (#46864035)

There is limited available funds to save peoples lives with, even if everyone on the planet devoted all their effort to helping solve problems, there is still a finite amount of resources available. With that in mind, there are far more dangerous things in the world that kill far more people in a year, solving those problems should come first.

Prioritizing doesn't mean you do nothing, it means you work on the more important problems first.

Re:5000 people annually (0)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 5 months ago | (#46865049)

There is limited available funds to save peoples lives with, even if everyone on the planet devoted all their effort to helping solve problems, there is still a finite amount of resources available. With that in mind, there are far more dangerous things in the world that kill far more people in a year, solving those problems should come first.

Prioritizing doesn't mean you do nothing, it means you work on the more important problems first.

I suggest that you, with your full understanding of the economics involved, walk through minefields. Because you are an immoral fuck, and you wouldn't do it anyhow, because you are also an immoral coward.

We see your sort of amoral arguments with the death penalty, when people like you speak of an "acceptable" number of false executions. Sounds good to you, because of the numbers? Well sparky, we cannot claim that without saying that we are accepting of people getting away with miurder and capital crime. It costs money to find out who really killed that person, so as long as we killed someone.

You are an example of the amoral and immoral people who value money above human life. So why don't you have your wife and children join you in walking theorough the minefields. We don't have enough money to clear them otherwise, and you would gladly sacrifice them for the money saved, wouldn't you?

It's all about the money. Although I suspect you'd be singing a differnt song if the route your children had to take to school was the minefield. As long as it is brown people in areas you and your'n will never go to , it's an acceptable thing.

Re:5000 people annually (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#46865389)

I suggest that you, with your full understanding of the economics involved, walk through minefields. Because you are an immoral fuck, and you wouldn't do it anyhow, because you are also an immoral coward.

I do not walk through minefields, nor crossing Interstates on foot. Yes, those who laid the mines should be responsible for removing them, but if we are going to make it a global charity problem, you'd save more lives per dollar buying helicopters for patient transfers/ambulance service than wasting millions cleaning up old ordinance. Why do you want to condem people to die from poor emergency response times by blocking funding for services? Oh, that's right, your pet project is mines, and if the numbers don't agree with you, *I'm* the immoral one for trying to do the most good.

It's all about the money. Although I suspect you'd be singing a differnt song if the route your children had to take to school was the minefield. As long as it is brown people in areas you and your'n will never go to , it's an acceptable thing.

Yup. If it were near me, of course it would be a bigger issue. I'd work on fences myself in spare time to keep people out, or go digging them out myself. The locals "allowed" them to be laid. Probably cheered at the time. 20M mines in Egypt, 700 dead per year. I think the locals have figured it out. So I'm not sure why it's such a hot topic that something that's less deadly than a bathtub must be removed with such urgency.

Re:5000 people annually (1)

dave420 (699308) | about 5 months ago | (#46866451)

So because you assume the locals "allowed" the mines to be laid, and even "cheered" when doing so, they should have their farmland kept unusable, or engage in a farming practice which can (to the tune of hundreds of people a year) prove lethal. Because many of the mines in North Africa, for example, are from WWII (and before the current crop of locals even existed, let alone allowed anyone to do anything and cheering over it), your comments seem either ridiculously ignorant, or insanely asshatish. Fences don't last as long as landmines, and farmland is not easy to create out of nothing. It's easy to talk about how you'd build fences and clear mines, knowing full-well that you'll never be in the position to do either. If you were faced with the situation of living near these things, with them depriving you of access and farmland, maybe even water, you'd sing a different tune. If your family's survival depended on you being able to farm, would you risk losing your health (or life) to disarm these things, when it's already hard enough farming enough to live? Naaah - of course all these people are wrong, and you are correct. What is this, asshole Tuesday?

Re:5000 people annually (1)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about 5 months ago | (#46864067)

You want to bring up cost effective? Well fuck you, economics should have ZERO argument in this issue. Clean the fucking things up.

It's called Doing the Right goddamn thing.

Whose responsibility is it to clean them up? Everybody's? If so, then why is it the "Right" thing to expend my resources on this problem rather than in one of any number of other ways that will have a greater impact?

Re:5000 people annually (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46864195)

The assholes who put them there and the assholes who made them.

There, was that too hard for your simple brain? Or you too busy getting LOLbertarian dick up your ass?

Re:5000 people annually (1)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about 5 months ago | (#46864499)

The assholes who put them there and the assholes who made them.

It is rather doubtful that any of the people participating in this discussion did either. So if that's the answer to the question, then the original comment was directed towards the wrong people.

Re:5000 people annually (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | about 5 months ago | (#46865659)

The assholes who put them there and the assholes who made them.

It is rather doubtful that any of the people participating in this discussion did either. So if that's the answer to the question, then the original comment was directed towards the wrong people.

But some of the people participating in this discussion may have voted for the government who decided to lay the mines, or the government who decided that manufacturing and exporting mines was ok...

Re:5000 people annually (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 5 months ago | (#46864855)

A lot of things need cleaning up. Perspective helps decides which one needs more attention. Doing the right thing is right, selecting which of the right things you need to do first, is the problem.

Re:5000 people annually (2)

Required Snark (1702878) | about 5 months ago | (#46864879)

For the ethically challenged (I'm talking to you, Mr. "5000 annually") here's are two maps.

This shows the number of casualties as as per country as a circular area [the-monitor.org] .

This shows maps the casualties to the relative size of the country [viewsoftheworld.net] . This makes it hard to figure out exactly which country is hurting the most, but it dramatically shows how bad some places have it compared to the rest of the world. Anyone who is not shocked by seeing this is a psychopathic personality type.

Re:5000 people annually (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 5 months ago | (#46865393)

. Anyone who is not shocked by seeing this is a psychopathic personality type.

So everyone working on disarming mines would already be familiar with this, and thus not "shocked", and therefore, anyone clearing mines is a psychopath. I'm not sure your conclusion works. I think anyone who thinks all others with differing opinions are psychopaths are psychopaths.

Re:5000 people annually (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 months ago | (#46866591)

SO, who knew I was a psychopath just because I'd already seen one of your maps, and the other one was basically a big blob of color that made little to no sense?

Hint to people who make these distorted maps to emphasize their ideas: if the map is too distorted, noone can even read it without major effort, which most people won't make....

Re:5000 people annually (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46865015)

"Well fuck you, economics should have ZERO argument in this issue."

If they don't (per your assertion) then they don't for YOU either.

When are you booked as a volunteer for a demining operation?

http://www.aidworkers.net/?q=advice/mineclearance

Re:5000 people annually (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 5 months ago | (#46865165)

Goats. The solution generally is to herd goats and sheep and let them detonate the things.

Re:5000 people annually (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 months ago | (#46866601)

You want to bring up cost effective? Well fuck you, economics should have ZERO argument in this issue. Clean the fucking things up.

So, have you donated your entire income to cleaning up the problem? If not, why not? After all, it's Doing the Right goddamn thing.

Oh, when you said economics should have ZERO argument, you meant OTHER PEOPLE'S economics....

Re:5000 people annually (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about 5 months ago | (#46867313)

If it costs $2000 to do one Right Thing (remove a land mine) and it costs $20 to do another Right Thing (say, cataract surgery to save someone's sight) then economics absolutely has a place in this issue. If you have resources then obviously do both, but if your resources are limited then you apply them to greatest effect.

Re:5000 people annually (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46864137)

You can't just to do the 'simple math' when looking at this issue. The UXOs are mostly concentrated in a small number of countries typically without the resources to solve the problem alone. Most of the global population does not live anywhere near the problem areas.

By some estimates around 75% of those mines are located in Laos and more than 50% of the yearly deaths occur there. Unlike the poorly worded subject there are about 10 unexploded mines PER PERSON there just waiting for a poor farmer or child to stumble upon. It is a travesty what happened in Laos during a war that it was not even officially a part of, and continues to destroy people daily.

If you limit the math to the population that lives in zones like this the numbers become quite a bit more real.

Re:5000 people annually (1)

careysub (976506) | about 5 months ago | (#46864917)

You can't just to do the 'simple math' when looking at this issue. The UXOs are mostly concentrated in a small number of countries typically without the resources to solve the problem alone. Most of the global population does not live anywhere near the problem areas.

By some estimates around 75% of those mines are located in Laos and more than 50% of the yearly deaths occur there. Unlike the poorly worded subject there are about 10 unexploded mines PER PERSON there just waiting for a poor farmer or child to stumble upon....

I think you are including unexploded cluster bombs in this count - which while not being actually landmines do function in effect like them.

Re:5000 people annually (2)

careysub (976506) | about 5 months ago | (#46864789)

You are not considering the fact that the mines render huge areas essentially unusable due to the risk of getting killed or maimed. This is an enormous continuing cost burden on the affected nations This area denial effect is the reason the mines were put there in the first place!

Re:5000 people annually (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 months ago | (#46866629)

Yes, and unless you can provide a 100% guarantee that the mines have been cleared, the area will still be unusable.

And the only way you can test that an area is 100% clear is to tell people to use it, and listen for the booms....

Re:5000 people annually (1)

Ksevio (865461) | about 5 months ago | (#46864923)

Well for one, building a minesweeping robot is a lot more interesting than building one that tells you to stop eating that hamburger.

Re:5000 people annually (4, Informative)

denzacar (181829) | about 5 months ago | (#46864953)

It's not the deaths.
It's not even the limbs lost.
It's the fact that some unknown area of land is completely unusable and unsafe. And I mean COMPLETELY.
Maybe you can look at it from a distance.
If you're looking for a "cost-effective" reason and saving couple of thousand lives per year is just not enough of a reason for you.

Here in Bosnia we have lots of mines and unexploded ordnance laying around thanks to that lovely party we had back in the '90s.
We also have plenty of forest fires each summer.

Now, besides the fact that we are severely lacking in the firefighting department (BOTH of our military helicopters used for firefighting tend to use up all the FUEL that the army has in first two days; trucks only go where there are roads, and many trucks are vintage '60s models repaired with such ingenious inventions as welding a crowbar onto a gearshift cause the original got torn off long ago) - places where fires tend to burn also tend to be littered with mines.
Or not. Nobody knows for sure.

Imagine trying to put out a forest fire with a backpack of water and a broom.
Now imagine that forest also firing off a bullet or two, from time to time, in a random direction.
Or a mortar shell exploding. Or the ground being covered in mines.
You know? Fun!

So what happens? Forests burn.
Until they burn close enough to be put out, or help comes from the neighbors in surrounding countries, or it rains.
Thing is, if they are burning close enough - that's cause they are close enough to where people live.

That's fires...
Guess what happens when rains start? You got it!
Landslides. Now you (maybe) have mines and UXOs where there were none just a weekend ago.
Who the fuck knows, right?
It's been 20+ years since the start of the war.

The best part?
Finding out that MAYBE there were mines couple of hundred meters from where you used to go to work, and right in the yard of a place where you're supposed to go to work.
A decade after the war ended. In the middle of a populated, urban, area. Right next to a main road.
Maybe there are mines there. Nobody knows anymore.

Then again, not so long ago several hundred rounds of ammunition and couple of grenades were found inside a locked room in the main building of the Presidency.
Nobody opened that door for a decade. Nobody NEEDED to open it for a decade.

Re:5000 people annually (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46868525)

Reap what you sow, Bosnia.

Re:5000 people annually (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46869599)

Every mine in Bosnia was placed by locals who besides the ingrained cultural habits of killing each other have demonstrated indifference to how much of their own homeland they fucked up. Now their kin and successors are paying for that choice to pollute.

Not the duty of the rest of humanity to sort out.

There is a general pattern of random area denial AP mine use, and it's mostly done by backward cultures and nations. Communists and their successors love the things even though random mining doesn't win wars or contribute much to them.

Proper defensive mine fields, such as those placed to slow and channel a North Korean invasion of South Korea, are mapped, monitored along with other defensive works, and if an eventual Korean lovefest breaks out may be removed with minimal fuss.

"Then again, not so long ago several hundred rounds of ammunition and couple of grenades were found inside a locked room in the main building of the Presidency. Nobody opened that door for a decade. Nobody NEEDED to open it for a decade."

They are harmless unless there's a fire. Ordnance is designed to keep well in dry storage. If some idiot left FUSES installed in the grenades that's another thing entirely, but that quantity of explosives (not in grenade form) and ammo is commonly held by hobbyists in the US with nil negative consequences. One gets better prices buying in bulk, and ammo is routinely shipped nationwide without fuss. 500 rounds 7.62 x 39 goes around a hundred bucks and is commonly purchased for recreational shooting.

Re:5000 people annually (2)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about 5 months ago | (#46866013)

Except land mine areas are concentrated, and do not always cause death. Take a trip to Cambodia, and walk down the street in Phnomh Penh. Every few block you'll see people missing limbs because they stepped on a landmine. If you have even a bit of a human heart, you'll understand that landmines as a method to engage in war are horrific. (Although you could argue ALL of war is horrific, land mines particularly so). They persist many years after the conflict is over, mainly injure the indigenous population (instead of targeting the enemy), and because nobody wants to step on a land mine, if you live in a land mine area you simply declare areas where land mines exist as off limits, rendering large areas completely unusable.

52 inhabitants (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46863765)

Isn't it more newsworthy that there are only 52 inhabitants on the planet?

Re:52 inhabitants (2)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 5 months ago | (#46863779)

Oh I see what's happened here, instead of a flu shot they gave you a context vaccine.

Finding Mines is easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46863767)

Just type xyzzy and then hit shift and enter at the same time. Every time you point at a mine the top left corner of your vision will turn black.
[disclaimer: may only work on computer screens and not in the real world. AC LLC cannot be held responsible for your dismemberment]

Noooooooo! (2)

PmanAce (1679902) | about 5 months ago | (#46863783)

At first I thought someone was going to write a PC virus to uninstall all minesweeper games from every version of windows on the planet. Thank god!

Re:Noooooooo! (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about 5 months ago | (#46863933)

Or remove all the mines from the minesweeper games. Imagine the horror of mine free minesweepers games.

Re:Noooooooo! (1)

PmanAce (1679902) | about 5 months ago | (#46863949)

"Indeed".

No cheap way to demine... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46863803)

Problem is that there isn't any cheap way to demine. Yes, there are clever methods like teaching rats to sniff out mines, but usually the areas where there are mine or UXO problems tend to be the places which can least afford to do this.

Anything in this front is a good thing.

Re:No cheap way to demine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46865929)

Robots are great way to find mines, just put a metal detector on them and tell them to sweep the field mapping any potential mines. If robot is light enough it wont go boom when it finds a mine. But that doesn't help none with actually getting rid of the mines. Sure you could build a robot to dig them up, but you would have to build lots of them because they will keep going boom when they try to dig up old rusted mines. 100 million mines, if only one in hundred goes boom during demining you would still need one million robots and that just doesn't work economically.

Re:No cheap way to demine... (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about 5 months ago | (#46866583)

Really? A metal detector? You do realize that when the metal detector was introduced in WW2 the Germans started responding with wooden and glass mines. Plastics and composite materials are the general composition of mines with metallic parts minimized.

someone fighting a war doesn't care... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46863887)

And thus the problem. When you are in a war, winning matters more than the ethics of what some obsolete mine would do. The fact is, if they were easy to get rid of, they would lose their military value.

perhaps, if there is an easy solution for the enemy to avoid your landmines, then maybe it would not be worth the trouble to place them. but that's about the only way you're going to get the mines to stop.

Re:someone fighting a war doesn't care... (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 5 months ago | (#46863927)

There is also the fact that they are used as a long term area denial measure. An organization or nation that might be losing a war or battle can mine an area, not to gain a military advantage, but to keep it from being used by another party.

Re:someone fighting a war doesn't care... (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 months ago | (#46866659)

An organization or nation that might be losing a war or battle can mine an area, not to gain a military advantage, but to keep it from being used by another party.

Denying an area to the enemy IS a military advantage.

This isn't the geek title you were looking for? (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 5 months ago | (#46863939)

.. and here I thought this about some AI contest used to test which algorithms best "solve" minesweeper. :-/

Goats (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46864071)

Use Goats.See, goats wander around eating things. Goatset off mines. This actually happens on an uninhabited Hawaiian island (unintentionally).

I have thought of this in the past. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46864145)

A remote version of one of the Hobart's Funnies from WW2, either the Bullshorn Plough or the Crab pattern or some weird combination of the two.
With modern robotics and materials that could be a damn site more durable and efficient too,

Obligatory Dr. Who misquote (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46864161)

"In one of the many wars on your miserable little planet, they used to drive robots across minefields.. principle is the same!"

I would add to the Master's astute observation that this would be an excellent job for a roomba!

And maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46864245)

... just maybe, we should stop *making* them.

Re:And maybe... (1)

careysub (976506) | about 5 months ago | (#46864897)

... just maybe, we should stop *making* them.

There is a treaty to do just that: The Ottawa Treaty [wikipedia.org] . 161 States are parties to the treaty, unfortunately hold-outs include a majority of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: the United States, Russia and China.

And of course a ban does nothing to remove those already in place.

Re:And maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46866673)

The US is in compliance with the exception of the Korean DMZ

This is horrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46864395)

Every time someone works harder to keep mines from killing children, the Republicans make even more dangerous mines. Just look at what they did to Vietnam. More children die there from mines than from any other Republican-related cause. The Republicans will just spend billions more of our money to make even larger and harder to detect mines. They'll use this as an excuse to murder even more children. That is their way. It's easier and safer to just let them have their fun than it is to fight them and piss them off. Children are going to die because of this.

Re:This is horrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46864737)

Same stupid troll post every time. What a moron. And Kennedy/Johnson - Democrats - got the US into Vietnam. Nixon - Republican - got the US out.

Re:This is horrible (1)

dave420 (699308) | about 5 months ago | (#46866571)

Losing is "getting out"? I guess so...

Re:This is horrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46869083)

How did the USA lose when they forced the north into signing a peace agreement? Using that same logic, Iraq won the first Gulf War. Also, North Korea defeated South Korea in the Korean War. You're wrong.

Who laid the mines (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 5 months ago | (#46864757)

Perhaps the one that laid mines could financially help the effort?

Re:Who laid the mines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46865665)

Very much this. Additionally: who made money out of that? Those should be shamed into contributing too.

Re:Who laid the mines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46866005)

Are you aiming for the "Funny" mod points?

Auto-decaying land mines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46864911)

A sensible approach is to manufacture land mines that decay naturally, so that they become inoperable after a few months or so. That means the people who want to use them can, and yet once they become more of a liability, they will become inert.

Perishable Mines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46865333)

Maybe if international treaties are changed to put a limit on the implemented mine's life, the problem can be addressed partially. Mines are effective weapons and therefore they will always be in production. If they are made of material that dissolves in the ground after, let's say 20 years, the problem can go away faster with time while maintaining the effectiveness of the weapon in wars.

Not exactly a win-win... but better than nothing.

Re:Perishable Mines? (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | about 5 months ago | (#46865683)

Maybe if international treaties are changed to put a limit on the implemented mine's life, the problem can be addressed partially.

There is already an international treaty - the Ottawa treaty bans the use, stockpiling and production of mines. The US refused to sign it.

Re:Perishable Mines? (1)

advid.net (595837) | about 5 months ago | (#46867045)

And those who signed the Ottawa treaty still produce specific land mines parts, labeled otherwise, via offshore subcontractors.

I remind an Italian campany and a French company (factory located in Brasil) - no refs sorry.

Also, if some company is so gready that it commit itself into land mines production, its aim will be to make reliable, cheap, furtive mines.

Re:Perishable Mines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46867791)

And those who signed the Ottawa treaty still produce specific land mines parts, labeled otherwise, via offshore subcontractors

A soviet man and his wife were having a baby. Luckily, he worked in a baby furniture factory, so he could steal one part a week so that when the baby came, they would have a full crib, quite the luxury in his part of the world. A few months later, his wife gave birth to a beautiful, bouncing baby babushka. Eagerly, the man assembled his stolen pieces to find instead of a crib, he had a new AK-47.

responsibility of producers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46865729)

There is a multi billion weapon industry that keeps producing landmines, and that industry has huge tax breaks. And we are using tax money for reasearch to clean up the very mess they are causing. Something is very wrong here.

Drones (1)

SB2020 (1814172) | about 5 months ago | (#46866221)

Drones surveying with IR, metal detector and possibly ground penetrating radar could sweep an area defined by GPS and produce a map of suspect spots.
Such a setup would be so useful for general surveying/archaeology/treasure hunting it must already exist? A quick search shows a few results for agricultural surveys.
I don't know if when they are 'deployed' whether there are regular patterns that could be used for machine recognition? Use a pen of goats or heavily armoured versions of Big Dog to detonate. Or design something like the StrandBeest to wander around and stomp on every square inch.
You could also crowd source the clearance of a particular area, cheap heavy ground pounding robots with video feeds driven around by 'the internet' - potential of setting off a real life mine would supply drivers 24hrs a day.

The math is flawed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46866577)

"110 million landmines in the ground right now; one for every 52 inhabitants on the planet" So, there is 2.11 million people in the world? I think not!

An idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46867519)

Why not just cluster bomb the area, setting the mines off? Mine problem gone!

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