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A HUMANITARIAN DRONE FOR THE RAPID DETECTION OF LANDMINES AND OTHER EXPLOSIVE REMNANTS OF WAR

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ALDrone (A HUMANITARIAN DRONE FOR THE RAPID DETECTION OF LANDMINES AND OTHER EXPLOSIVE REMNANTS OF WAR)

Reporting period: 2015-09-01 to 2015-12-31

Today there are 110M landmines deployed in 78 countries, including in Europe, killing up to 20,000 a year. The removal of landmines is slow and manual, dangerous (for every 5000 mines cleared 1 worker is killed and 2 injured), and costly ($300–1000 to remove 1 mine). In the past 5 years less than 1000 km2 worldwide were cleared of mine. At this pace it will take 1100yrs to remove all the landmines. To meet these needs we created the Anti-Landmine Drone (ALDrone) a small, lightweight drone that detects landmines using a multispectral camera to spot the erosion created by the decomposition of the chemical elements in a mine. Our system can cover the same area in 1 day that other landmine detection methods take a month to cover, using an off-site central control station meaning no chance of explosion while locating mines, thus preventing the loss of lives. Our solution has a competitive cost to make it available to as many countries as possible. Thanks to the Mine Ban Treaty countries worldwide have committed to eliminating all the mines in the world. In 2013 the EU contributed over 2M€ to demining activities, international support amounted to almost $435M and national support almost $198M. We already have the interest of demining agencies which leads us to believe that there is indeed a market and a demand for our product in the humanitarian demining sector.
In our feasibility study we evaluated the needs of demining agencies worldwide and inferred the best sales strategy/maximum price for our solution and got the support of several international stakeholders. We analysed the best frequencies for the new optical sensor to increase the accuracy of the system. In parallel we evaluated the commercial availability of GALILEO/EGNOSS receivers since the European GNSS infrastructure is relatively new and made a preliminary specification and requirements analysis of the front-end which must be provided to end-users in order to allow a usable and safe experience.
Our study also covered all certification and regulatory issues related to UAVs in our targeted markets, and definitely there’s no barrier as landmines are not in urban areas in developed countries where the regulations are tougher. Our IP study identified the main protection measures applicable to our drone technology and the algorithms. Finally we defined a detailed wok plan for Ph2 and elaborated a business plan including a commercialization strategy.
http://www.catuav.com/
During the project, we analysed what type of public and private data can be used that will be useful for the ALDRONE solution as well as an in-depth analysis of readily available Galileo GNSS devices. We especially studied the maturity and extended features of Galileo devices in comparison to GPS/ GLONASS which allowed us to identify the best solution for its integration. Research comparing ALDRONE with the state-of-the-art and known commercial solutions was carried out, including costs, environmental benefits, ease-of-use and other features. This task allowed us to define the specific software and hardware redesign needs for the Phase II project.
Our business innovation has generated significant interest and market potential amongst our SME customer network, however a market assessment was done to quantify the market potential that ALDRONE holds and to let target customers guide our commercial strategy. The market assessment showed us that ALDRONE is suited to the demining market sector.
We have designed a business model adapted to the key needs of demining entities based on surveys and personal contact with experts and professionals. As the ALDRONE solution includes a hardware and a software service, pricing will be determined according to the modules/ components that each customer requires but can be paid as a fixed, monthly payment. The price of the hardware component that companies will need is estimated to be up to 50.000€. We have already released the MVP product to the market in September 2015, as part of customer development efforts within our ALDRONE innovation plan. With the financial support of the Ph2 project we will be able to release the next versions of the fully integrated solution until reaching TRL9 and thus ready for all the targeted market segments. This will have all components, including multispectral sensors, Galileo/EGNOS receivers, as well as a GIS module. The 2nd part release will have the fully operative software and cloud database support.
We have identified various risks associated with how our solution will be accepted. Some of these are included in the SWOT diagram, which are linked to existing companies who already develop and sell products for demining which are complementary to the ALDRONE solution, not an alternative. Further risks linked to the implementation of the Phase II project are also detailed.
As part of the feasibility study of Phase 1, we evaluated worldwide patents and found no relevant IPR conflict. Moreover, as we will integrate and work on different modules already belonging to CATUAV, we do not envisage any obstacle in this sense. We will explore the possibility of patenting this system - or parts - with a patent lawyer as determined in the feasibility study. We have conducted an initial freedom to operate search and have found no proprietary impediments to our project.
The whole feasibility deliverable has been formatted as a business plan, including a commercialisation strategy and criteria for success. The confirmation of our business hypothesis through a customer validation process and the potential added value of our proposal against competition provide reasonable guarantees for commercial success.
Currently there is no way to rapidly detect landmines over a large area of land. Deminers must go meter by meter and manually detect and then remove the mines. This takes huge amounts of times and often results in having to cover areas that do not have mines since in many areas there are not accurate maps depicting which areas are mined. In the past 5 years less than 1000 km2 were cleared with only about 200 km2 of mined area being cleared to international standards. If demining efforts remain about the same as they are now, and no new mines are laid, it will still take 1100 years to get rid of all the world’s active land mines.

Our innovative solution – an anti-landmine drone that will allow faster and safer mine detection based on our small, lightweight drone equipped with on-board, low-cost, high-tech multispectral cameras that can detect landmines using our proprietary state of the art image processing software. In this way, our technology will be able to:
• Reduce the time for landing inspection by 200 times compared to conventional methods.
• Increasing safety by completely eliminating the risk of explosion during the surveys.
• New cutting edge landing system: deep-stall method (smooth vertical landing) .
• 100% autonomous drone including a plug&play solution, easy to operate by any unexperienced user.
• Time and cost reduction in landmine detection due that the acquisition of data will require just a single flight.
Mockup of the Aldrone APP