In places like Chad, Laos, and Colombia, mines and explosive remnants of war pose a daily threat to civilians. In fact, in 61 countries around the world, explosive ordnance post a real obstacle to development. Humanity & Inclusion, in conjunction with new technology companies, are testing drones to detect landmines and build a detailed picture of what’s on the ground—a revolution in mine clearance.
Drones, which can map suspected hazardous areas remotely have the potential to revolutionize landmine clearance operations. If successful, drones would help target mine clearance areas more precisely and reduce the length of time it takes for teams to return contaminated land to civilians.
"Drones can hopefully provide considerable assistance in demining by reducing tenfold the time it takes to implement non-technical surveys, a phase that consists in identifying and demarcating potentially hazardous areas requiring the intervention of demining teams,” explains Emmanuel Sauvage, Head of Armed Violence Reduction at Humanity & Inclusion. “This phase is sometimes longer than the mine clearance operations themselves. By providing accurate data for mapping areas to be cleared, the drones will also help us to deploy our mine-clearance teams in a more targeted way.”
Clearing land and keeping people safe from weapons is at the core of our DNA. Innovation such as this is vital in order to meet the vast needs of mine clearance operations. In Chad alone, 39 square miles of land are contaminated by mines and explosive remnants of war. Over the course of a 4-year project in Chad, Humanity & Inclusion and its partners destroyed more than 1,000 miles in Chad, and tested a drone mine detection system that will revolutionize mine clearance operations worldwide.
In 2021, Humanity & Inclusion and its partners launched another drone test in Iraq to pilot the technology in a more mountainous region.
Equipped with a camera, the drone gives a detailed picture of what’s on the ground, along with a set of data such as GPS coordinates. During the initial tests, the drone took a photo of the terrain every two meters. When assembled, the photos provide a highly detailed map.
What is the optimal height for a drone? What type of drones should we use? What data is most useful to mine clearance experts? These are the sorts of questions we are asking in order to make the best use of this technology.”
More images from our demining work in Chad
Our drone operator prepares to send the drone over the desert landscape to see what's ahead
Anti-tank mines found by the team
Explosive devices buried in a hole before HI's demining team produced a controlled explosion
A controlled explosion of the weapons the team found