US Office of Naval Research flies drone for buried mine tracking

Tinuku ~ US Office of Naval Research conducted a demonstration of new Mine Warfare Rapid Assessment Capability (MIW RAC) technology system at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. The drone device is designed as a new way to detect mines buried and submerged in water to anticipate land mines, watermines and other weapons.

Tinuku US Office of Naval Research flies drone for buried mine tracking

An Android tablet shows search data generated from drone flights. The device screen shines when a green fluorescent map appears and a red plot of different sizes and shapes.

"That's the dummy mine we buried. The drone detected and localized these items are quickly and accurately, which would be extremely valuable in a real combat scenario," says Cory Stephanson, President and CEO of Broadband Discovery Systems (BDS).

The new MIW RAC is sponsored by the TechSolutions program by Office of Naval Research (ONR) consisting of a one-pound quadcopter equipped with an ultra-sensitive magnetometer sensor system to detect mines and provide real-time search data to Android devices.

"This technology will help Sailors and Marines who are approaching a beachfront to rapidly clear, or at least determine the location of, mines or other hazards that are in their way. It could potentially save a lot of lives," ONR Command Master Chief Matt Matteson.

MIW RAC is a remote-controlled portable system for detecting buried or underwater mines and zones during amphibious landings in real-time aerial coverage. The team then uses bullets to detonate dangerous metal mines and obstacles.

"Everyone wants to know where they are going and what they are about to get into," says Rosemarie Oelrich, a scientist at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Carderock's Combatant Craft Division.

"It helps to have a rapid capability to just fly something in the air and survey an area before you put troops on the ground or bring a vessel ashore," Oelrich said.

Quadcopter and tablet devices are commercially available and the MIW RAC is a magnetometer sensor suite that has a wide detection range and uses complex algorithms to differentiate between different types of objects.

"We took our inspiration from a stationary scanning system developed by BDS. It was sensitive enough to not only detect weapons, but identify the hidden location of the object on a person and the angle in which it was oriented, a knife in a front pocket or gun turned sideways, for example," Oelrich said.

"We flipped that concept on its head. Instead of a stationary system detecting moving objects, we have a moving system detecting relatively stationary objects," Oelrich said.