The world is now facing new kinds of wars, as in Iraq and Syria, where cities are the main battlefields, and thus new Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) and Improvised Explosives Devices (IED) clearance challenges arise. It is imperative not to forget that unprecedented amount of unexploded ordnance, mines and IEDs will continue to litter urban and rural areas long after any peace is brokered.
Digger Foundation, with its 18 years of existence and field experience, has already a world-renowned solution for clearing rural areas from mines: the DIGGER D-250 machine. However, no tool exists today to address the new challenge in urban areas, where Unexplodes Ordnances, from hand grenades to aviation bombs or IEDs are trapped under rubble, and deminers currently have to work by hand at great risk.
At Digger Foundation, we are specialised in high-technology and robotics equipment dedicated to humanitarian demining. It is our mission to address the situation in Iraq and Syria with new tools adapted to the task.
The first main challenge is to find explosives devices in rubbles. Dogs have been used for humanitarian demining for more than ten years with great success and no dog accident. Their ability to smell explosives has no technological equivalent at the moment. However, their range and coverage has always been limited because they must be kept on a leash, which is compulsory to ensure fully supervised coverage. This makes the survey particularly perilous and slow for the dog handler when walking among IED-infested rubble.
Once an explosive device has been identified in an area, the second main challenge is for the deminers to get access to the mine to neutralise it. If the IED is hidden in rubbles, these must be cleared before the deminer can get access to the mine or even identify it. Clearing rubble can be achieved with construction machines, but operating such heavy equipment potentially over explosives is very risky for the pilot.
The DOME system addresses these two main challenges through robotics. We equip dogs, dogs handlers and machine operators with bionic systems packed with sensors and visualisation devices, while we automate construction machines. Our system is unique and conceived, developed and manufactured by the Digger Foundation. We spent hours discussing with actors on the field, dog handlers and machine operators, to understand the challenges that they face, and confronting ideas to conceive this system. DOME empowers deminers and civil engineers to accomplish even the most challenging rubble clearance tasks while staying at a safe distance from any potential explosion.
DOME allows to finally get to work on rebuilding affected cities by providing a low-cost system easily adaptable to all existing local machines, and by providing an intuitive system that every team and every dog handler can adopt.