Brussels, 19 May 2003
Belgian, Swedish and Croatian experts have pooled their resources to develop a remote controlled tractor, capable of removing and detonating landmines.
According to UN statistics, over 100 million landmines lie dormant in more than 70 countries worldwide. Many of these are small anti-personnel mines that cannot tell the difference between a soldier and an innocent child. Landmines kill and wound over 20,000 people each year.
In Croatia alone, unexploded antipersonnel landmines anonymously litter approximately half of the country's surface area. The EUREKA project, ORACLE, has found a safe and economical method of clearing the mines from the landscape. In the case of Croatia, the project's mission is to clear up to 20,000 square metres of land per hour.
To reach this target, the team has developed an armoured tracked loader, using a conventional forestry tractor, which is capable of withstanding the shock of an explosion with minimal damage. Also developed from an existing forestry machine, is a rotating de-mining tool, which is placed at the front of the vehicle. In order to power the vehicle, a trailer carrying a 660kW power unit is attached to the loader.
The loader is not only good value for money, but it is also multifunctional, meaning that it can adapt to a variety of terrains and extreme climates. In terms of safety, unlike other de-mining tools, the ORACLE loader is remotely controlled and has an integrated precise global positioning system that ensures safety and precision.
The ORACLE team hopes to take its invention to other countries where landmines remain a threat to society. However, '[t]here is so much work in the Balkan region, we haven't sprung out from there yet, but if we are financed and we get serial production going we most certainly will go into other markets. There are strong requests for participating in Afghanistan at the moment, said Lars Nylin, ORACLE coordinator.
For further information about the ORACLE project,
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