Project PERUN advances, Project METASHAPE is launched

For the last two years the Find A Better Way-funded research team at the University of Zagreb has been developing a new method for helping metal detectors work in all soil types. Called Project PERUN, the work has focused on helping  metal detectors operate in areas containing “non-cooperative” soils, which contain high amounts of iron and other metals. These metals interfere with the electromagnetic waves detectors use to find landmines, and as the amounts can widely over small areas of ground, present real headaches for deminers in the field.

Project PERUN is developing new algorithms to help detectors instantly compensate for different soil-types in real time. The development is now in its final stages and field testing is planned for the end of June.

A new parallel project, known as Project METASHAPE, has been launched by the same team in partnership with leading metal detector makers Vallon. Unlike the Project PERUN, which will produce a proof of concept, METASHAPE will have a practical focus, incorporating target characterisation technology to Vallon’s latest generation of detector. The project began in March of this year, and is scheduled to conclude in Spring 2020.

Project leader Vedran Bilas is enthusiastic about working with a leading commercial firm like Vallon.

Putting what we’ve learned from Project PERUN into a real, commercial metal detector is very exciting,’ he said.  ‘We have worked with corporations on projects before, and it is a very different experience. Timelines are much more important as “time to market” is a key concept. We can take the research part of our work, and, using their expertise in technology, demonstrate our findings quickly.”

Speaking on behalf of Vallon, Markus Vallon said, “We are very pleased to have the opportunity to work with Vedran and his team to try and improve the next generation of metal detection equipment for humanitarian demining. Non-cooperative soil is one of the most intractable problems in the demining industry so any technological advance in terms of target characterization in this area could have huge benefits.”

The launch of Project METASHAPE has caught the interest of the Croatian press. Vedran recently appeared in the lead story in one of Croatia’s largest newspapers, Slobodna Dalmacija (pictured). The connection of the project to Find A Better Way’s founder, Sir Bobby Charlton, was the headline.

Having  a commercial partner work with a Find A Better Way-funded project is great news according to CEO Lou McGrath.

“We are delighted to see the technology Vedran and his team have been developing start the transition from academic research into technology in the hands of deminers. Non-cooperative soil types are a serious problem in many areas, and helping metal detectors compensate for the distortions they cause could make a real contribution to the demining effort worldwide. We’re delighted to be supporting Vedran and his team and are looking forward to the results!”