Detecting Land Mines | Max Swahn
By Max Swahn, July 23, 2020
Civil Engineers and Biologists are professionals that are seldom considered to cross paths. One deals with the infrastructure of a nation while the other studies life forms around us and seeks to find exactly what makes them tick. So why have these two scientific forces come together recently? The answer is land mines. In this blog I’ll be spotlighting how these two professions have merged to bring about a new wave of progress in land mine detection. What Do Plants Have To Do With Land Mines? Land mines contain explosives which are made of very well known chemical compounds. When plants grow on top of land mines that have remained dormant for long periods of time, they show some tell tale signs of these compounds. This information can be used to then safely identify land mine locations and have them removed to prevent unknowing individuals from being harmed. How Can Drones Be Used To Help? Drone technology has greatly advanced in recent years. In fact, drones can now be operated by almost anyone with the proper registration in the proper area. Cameras can be mounted on drones which are specifically designed to identify plants that may be growing on top of active land mines. This allows people to remain very far away from a potentially dangerous area and still search for the land mines. As this technology improves, it can only be assumed that the process will become easier and cheaper. Why Does This Save Both Lives And Money? It is estimated that upwards of 20,000 people are killed annually by land mines. This doesn’t just include active war zones. In some areas, land mines have been detonated decades after they were initially placed. Using this type of sensory technology has the potential to save thousands of lives each year. The drones are able to sweep areas that are either an active war zone now or were at one time in the past. This allows the proper authorities to then go to the location and disarm the land mine as to keep the residents of the area safe. Money is saved because drones do not require a pilot and thus the land mines can be searched for at a very low cost. As a recent engineering graduate, I’m always fascinated by the diverse applications of this technical field. I’m also excited to see how it can now be continued to protect more lives all over the globe.