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TIRAMISU demonstrates new demining tools in Brussels

The EU-funded TIRAMISU project uses robots and UAVs to disarm and dispose of anti-personnel landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXOs), which commonly threaten post-conflict development and welfare.

Observing demining tools in action is, luckily, a rare thing in Belgium. However this is precisely the kind of spectacle stakeholders, policy-makers and curious citizens were offered on 5 and 6 May on the occasion of the 5th European Civil Protection Forum in Parc du Cinquentenaire, Brussels. Outdoor demonstrations of TIRAMISU’s unmanned rotorcraft and Teodor UGV were organised, showcasing the full potential of these technologies. Two specific capabilities of the project tools were successfully demonstrated in spite of challenging weather conditions: 3-D mapping with an optical camera and demining with a near infrared camera. The TIRAMISU rotorcraft, the first of the two technologies to be used on-site, demonstrated its capabilities in assisting demining personnel in humanitarian operations after a flood – where landmines tend to shift locations. The rotorcraft’s mapping abilities provide a 3-D model of the environment which can then be used to predict the position of shifted mine-field. Once this is done, a near-infrared camera is used to locate mines, while the Teodor UGV – an unmanned ground vehicle – assists the demining operation from the ground. TIRAMISU, which kicked off in January 2012 and ends in December 2015, gathers together organisations which have been involved in some of the most important European and international research projects on mine action. It aims to develop a toolbox which can serve as a basis for a comprehensive, modular and integrated solution to the clearing of large areas subjected to explosive hazard. Specifically, the team is working on three sets of tools: demining planning tools to locate explosive devices and define contaminated areas, detection and disposal tools to help operators neutralise these devices, as well as training and mine risk education tools. In addition to the two technologies mentioned above, other exciting solutions such as training bees to sniff out explosives have been explored and tested by the project consortium. The TIRAMISU tools have already been used in real life situations over the past few years, including assistance with relief operations after the floods that affected over 3 million people in Serbia and Bosnia in May 2014, mapping of the Svilaja and Dinara mountains in Croatia and mine risk education activities in Cambodia. The final demonstration of the project tools is set to take place in September 2015, also in Belgium. Over 110 000 000 active landmines are still scattered around the world, and it is estimated that it would take some 1 000 years to clear all landmines and UXOs. The TIRAMISU robots could be key to accelerating the pace of demining without putting operators’ lives under threat. For further information, please visit: TIRAMISU http://www.fp7-tiramisu.eu

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Belgium