Scientists have demonstrated a new way to detect buried and submerged mines. Data is collected by sensors aboard an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The information can then be used to create images to display locations of submerged mines on a device such as an Android. The system was demonstrated by successfully identifying a submerged dummy mine and differentiating it from surrounding debris.

The key to the system is that it continuously estimates the velocities of all the moving objects in the drone's environment and projects their locations a second or two into the future. (Image: Christine Daniloff/MIT)

The Mine Warfare Rapid Assessment Capability (MIW RAC) system consists of a one-pound quadcopter outfitted with an ultra-sensitive magnetometer sensor system to detect mines and provide real-time search data to a handheld Android device. It is designed to help Sailors and Marines who are approaching a beachfront to rapidly clear, or at least determine the location of, mines or other hazards that are in their way.

It will help explosive ordnance disposal teams quickly find mines and dangerous metal obstacles within coastal surf zones and very-shallow-water zones by providing a new, real-time aerial complement to existing underwater mine-detection capabilities.

While the quadcopter and tablet device are available commercially, the heart of MIW RAC is its proprietary magnetometer sensor suite, which has an extensive detection range and uses complex algorithms to differentiate between various types of objects. MIW RAC originated in 2015, when the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) sent a request to ONR's TechSolutions program for a portable system that could detect potential hazards in surf zones, be easy for warfighters to use, and fit diverse platforms.

The idea was taken from an existing stationary scanning system that was sensitive enough to not only detect weapons, but identify the hidden location of an object on a person and the angle in which it was oriented — a knife in a front pocket or gun turned sideways, for example. The MIW RAC is that system flipped on its head. Instead of a stationary system detecting moving objects, this is a moving system detecting relatively stationary objects.

For more information, contact Warren Duffie Jr., here .

Sensor Technology Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2017 issue of Sensor Technology Magazine.

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