A landmine detection system under development by a team of Georgia Tech researchers uses high-frequency seismic waves to displace soil and objects in it slightly. A non-contact radar sensor then measures the results, creating a visual representation of the displacement that reveals the buried mines.
Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek
Waymond R. Scott, Jr., a professor in Georgia Techs School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is the principal investigator for the landmine detection project.
Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek
Millions of land mines are buried worldwide, and these weapons were responsible for an estimated 16,000 injuries and deaths in 2002.
Georgia Institute of Technology researchers are making progress with a landmine detection system that could ultimately help prevent such losses. The system uses high-frequency seismic waves to displace soil and objects in it slightly (less than one ten-thousandth of an inch). A non-contacting radar sensor then measures the results, creating a visual representation of the displacement that reveals the buried mines.
This seismic-wave system presents potential advantages over existing electromagnetic-wave techniques used in metal detectors and ground-penetrating radars (GPR). Although metal detectors and GPRs can locate mines successfully, they have more trouble locating the small, plastic anti-personnel mines that have become more prevalent. Metal detectors and GPRs can also be confused by ground clutter -- rocks, sticks or scraps of metal - sometimes resulting in many false alarms.
"The positioner we used was never intended to do this, so with different hardware we should be able to get better results," says James S. Martin, a senior research engineer from Georgia Tech’s School of Mechanical Engineering. "Even so, this was much better than the snail’s pace at which we had been working."
Two radar sensors have been used in the current system to demonstrate that interactions between multiple sensors are not problematic. But adding more sensors would make the system faster. "Anytime you increase the number of sensors you’re using, you can decrease the measurement time," says Gregg Larson, another School of Mechanical Engineering researcher on the project.
Bottom line, researchers say the time required to measure a square meter can be sliced from several hours to less than a minute. Faster measurements are crucial as the team develops a prototype for more extensive field tests.
"We need to measure larger areas and gather more information about different mines, soil properties and environmental conditions," Scott says, noting that data helps the researchers improve their numerical models and signal-processing algorithms.
"Testing in different soil properties is important because the soil’s complicated structure makes it to difficult to detect mines. You can’t just look up the soil parameters we need in a book," he adds.
Jane Sanders | Georgia Tech
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