EU mine detector on trial in Bosnia
A mine detector, developed during the EU-funded research project 'handheld operational demining system' or HOPE under the Esprit 4 sub section of the Fourth Framework programme is being tested near Sarajevo in Bosnia, ready to assist in mine clearing operations. The mine is being tested by Norwegian People's Aid (NPA), a non-governmental mine clearing organisation and one of the project participants. NPA have been joined by the European Space Agency (ESA), who are providing assistance for the ground penetration radar (GPR) segment of the mine detector. This support is part of ESA's technology transfer programme, which encourages industry to use technology developed for space in other fields. HOPE is a three sensor system mine detector. A classical metal detector is first used to locate potential mines, which then activates the two additional sensors. The radiometer investigates the first three centimetres of earth whilst the ground penetration radar (GPR) can penetrate up to 30 centimetres of earth, enabling the data processing section of the radiometer and the GPR to produce a three dimensional image of what has been found. Mine clearers are then able to assess accurately and quickly whether what has been located is a land mine or a harmless piece of metal. According to Dr Hans Martin Braun from Raumfahrt Systemtechnik Gmbh (RST), one of the project participants, previous tests carried out by the German and Belgium military and the EU joint research centre in Ispra have all given positive results. 'However, this is the first time that we test HOPE with real land mines and with the end users, the demining operators here in Bosnia,' he added. 'Our plan is a two year project to produce a final HOPE 2 prototype. This is ambitious planning, but we are dealing with a very serious problem and we have to move as fast as we can. Our technology is now at such a level that providing we receive sufficient funding, by mid next year we may be able to have a small number of HOPE 2 prototypes ready to test in normal demining operations during a further two to five month testing period. This field usage should provide us with sufficient feedback to produce a final prototype which can be put into production at the end of this two year time frame,' said Dr Braun.