A cheap landmine detector made from eBay parts

Scientists at the Colorado School of Mines built a cheap detection system for landmines. The same system could be used to monitor our fragile infrastructure.

Detecting landmines can be expensive: A laser-based Doppler remote detection system could cost about $1 million. But researchers at Colorado School of Mines have made a new detection system for only $10,000.

CSM's physics professor John Scales used "off-the shelf" parts to build a robust microwave-sensor system, which is capable of picking up vibrations from unexploded buried landmines.

According to a statement:

"Land mines are an enormous problem around the world for both military personnel and civilians," explains Scales. "We've developed an ultrasound technique to first shake the ground and then a microwave component to detect ground motion that indicates location of the land mine. We hope that the two components together enable us to detect the land mines in a safe fashion, from a distance."

Other ways of detecting land mines include training dogs to sense the explosives or deploying biosensors to check the soil for evidence. MIT researchers previously found a way to detect land mines with sound.

Recently, UK scientists created a cheap polyfluorene laser that can identify vapors given off by bombs. The laser could be used to build an electronic nose for robotic dogs, and send them to sniff out roadside explosives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Even if you aren't stuck in a war torn country, the technology could help the aging infrastructure in your city. The detection system could be used to check the state of buildings, bridges, and dams. And it could even add a layer of defense to airport security.

Photo: Neil Rickards/Wikimedia Commons

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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