In countries with war-ravaged pasts such as Cambodia, those with on-going military operations such as Afghanistan and in areas ridden with insurgent activities, landmines pose a potent threat to civilians even long after the war is over. Detecting and mining them out safely is an arduous task.
As per the UN report about 110 million landmines have been planted since 1960 and about 15000 people die each year due to them.
Afghanistan is dotted with these subterranean dangers. Nearly 1 million Afghans live within 500 meters of areas planted with landmines. An estimated 42 lives are lost every month.
An engineering innovation named the “Mine Kafon” is a spherical mobile made out of biodegradable plastic and bamboo with multiple legs armed around to resemble an open zorb. It’s light so that the wind would help it rotate like a ball round naturally. However it is also heavy enough to set off landmines as it rolls over them. Each detonation causes 2 to 3 legs to be lost. It can still continue its journey and detonate 3-4 landmines. While it is expensive to build the Mine Kafon, it can be a life saver.
Enhancement plans include integration with global positioning system (GPS) to guide it with accuracy and have automation for navigational control.
Demining includes human and technology based mine removal. Even rats and dogs have been employed at the risk of life. Metal detector devices are elsewhere used. Arial deployment based clearance could be a way but more expensive. The design of Mine Kafon thus provides a balanced alternative to these methods above.
It is designed by Massoud Hassani, an Afghan settled in the Netherlands. His source of idea for the Mine Kafon is the wind based toy he used to play as a child.