Landmine-detecting drone at Old Trafford

Innovative landmine-detecting drone

A Find a Better Way-funded research project at the University of Bristol was profiled on BBC Breakfast yesterday. The slot was viewed by an estimated 3 million people during their peak viewing time just before 8 am.

As part of International Mine Awareness Day, as declared by the United Nations, the University of Bristol researchers led by Dr John Day brought their innovative landmine-detecting drone to Manchester United’s Old Trafford for a demonstration.

The drone’s software generates high-resolution maps of areas the size of a football pitch in under two hours. With current technology clearing an area this size can take several months. It is hoped the drone will significantly cut this time by helping deminers spot where mines are before they step foot in hazardous areas.

The Manchester United media team and stadium managers very kindly allowed this demonstration to take place in front of the nationwide audience. It meant an early start to their Monday morning after a Sunday afternoon: a 1-0 victory over Everton and the unveiling of the newly renamed Sir Bobby Charlton Stand in honour of the Find A Better Way founder.

According to Dr Day, the drone’s abilities will expand as the just-started two-year research project proceeds. The team are already experimenting with infrared cameras that can clearly show partially covered plastic casing of mines hidden among grass and other vegetation. With time this technique will also detect plants growing on top of fully buried mines. 

The media coverage was also the first public outing for incoming Find A Better Way CEO Lou McGrath OBE. Lou very graciously agreed to appear on camera yesterday to help explain the case for better landmine detection technology.

View the coverage here