Disposable Robot De-mining

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2008 - $13,420

Worldwide, 2,000 people each month are killed or maimed by land mines. Humanitarian de-mining projects are underway, and fall into two categories, manual and mechanical. Manual de-mining involves a person in protective gear prodding the ground for hours, and while effective, it is very slow and can be dangerous. Mechanical de-mining involves the use of robots to explode mines, but current robots are either very expensive ($500,000) or are unproven and not widely implemented.

This E-Team is developing a low-cost, disposable robot de-miner. Reasoning that the high cost of most robot de-miners comes from the fact that they are built for repeated detonations, and therefore need to be very sturdy, the team's robot is lower-tech, consisting of spike rollers, a steering mechanism, and a pressure concentrator to detonate the mine. The idea is to deploy a "swarm" of $50 one-shot robots to clear a minefield. The team has developed an alpha prototype.