The goal is to design a drone to detect landmines and improve road safety in Colombia.
Gimnasio Los Caobos began working on its entry for Renault's YOUR IDEAS YOUR INITIATIVE by investigating and analyzing the main issues behind Colombia's road safety. In order to do so, all students involved in the project divided themselves among different groups of three students each, thus facilitating the research process. After researching, all students gathered and started sharing their findings with the members of the other groups. This discussion allowed for the discovery of one alarming issue that threatened road safety throughout the country: landmines. According to the information gathered by the participants, there is an estimated 51.24 km2 of Colombian territory filled with landmines in 31 out of the 32 Departments that constitute the geographical extension of the country. Also, statistics revealed that an estimated 11,460 people had been injured by said landmines, out of which 1,165 were children. The current initiatives for landmine removal that the government is financing are not deemed safe according to international standards. Said initiatives generally involve a soldier who, accompanied by a dog, proceeds to track and deactivate any landmines the animal happens to encounter. Even though this method has been proven effective it is not accurate, for the exact coordinates for each landmine are unknown. Also, it is important to note that this process is being used because the United Nations and other international entities have prohibited other more invasive methods due to the environmental risks they pose. However, demining according to current standards is not free of perils, for it endangers the lives of the soldiers and dogs involved. Historically, the Colombian government has been in charge of demining the country's territory, especially in those areas highly affected by Colombia's on-going armed conflict. Unfortunately, and despite the government's efforts, armed groups such as the FARC keep on planting new landmines. In the best case scenario, Colombia's recent peace treaties may help towards abolishing hostile groups from taking control over previously endangered areas. Nonetheless, all planted landmines will remain intact until found or removed. For this reason, land mine-removal methods will continue to be necessary. This necessity of finding a more efficient and safe landmine-removal method is what we want to work on for our project, so to ensure the demining of the territories that are still affected by landmines. This will not only ensure a decrease in the number of victims, but will also guarantee a noticeable improvement in Colombia's road safety.
Therefore, our group proposes the design of a landmine detector in form of a remote-controlled drone, equipped with a technological device that is capable of "sniffing" the chemical components in the explosives used in landmines, thus facilitating the location of the precise coordinates of each planted bomb. The electronic nose installed in our drone will fulfill the same function as a trained military dog's nose. This means that it will be capable of tracing a planted landmine by detecting the smell of the chemical substances used in explosives. The design of the drone will possess: 1. A metal detector with an incorporated GPS radar that will inform its user of the exact location of the traced landmine. 2. An electronic nose. 3. A Wi-Fi antenna that is connected to a central computer where all the information of the drone will be kept. 4. A high definition camera that will snap pictures of the terrain where the landmine has been detected, which will facilitate the understanding the coordinates received by the GPS. 5. An integrated computer board that will allow the drone's user to execute specific commands. 6. A computer program called XBEE to be used with the drone, so it may connect or send data through a Wi-Fi connection to the central computer that is monitored by the drone's controller. 7. A solar panel that will provide the drone with additional energy, thus making its internal battery last more than the average drone battery, which according to our research is of 15 to 20 minutes. This will give our drone additional functionality. Solar rays would be absorbed by the surface of the solar panels, and will be transformed into energy by silicon or gallium arsenide components. We have also considered an alternative in case the terrain does not allow access to drones due to excess vegetation or other obstacles, by working with remote control cars if necessary. At this current stage, we are developing the blueprints for our drone, which we hope to eventually transform into a fully working prototype. This way our project will become a reality that will allow us to take action and help in our country's post conflict demining process.