Benkovac blog post

Project SEMIS testing in Croatia successful

Five researchers from Find A Better Way’s Project SEMIS, based at The University of Manchester, recently finished five days of testing in Benkovac, Croatia. The team were visiting a dedicated landmine detection testing facility to test their combined advanced metal detection and ground penetrating radar (GPR) device.

The facility, administered by Croatia’s Centre for Testing, Development & Training (CTRO), features hundreds of disabled anti-personnel mines buried along one meter wide lanes that simulate different real-world environments. As some soil types cause enormous amounts of interference with electromagnetic-waves, the lanes are filled with different types of soil to allow testing in both ‘cooperative’ and ‘non-cooperative’ soil types.

This was the latest visit by the SEMIS team to the Benkovac facilities, and they came with a specific goal in mind: to demonstrate that both their advanced metal detection sensor and GPR sensor could simultaneously record data in a real-world environment, while at the same time logging the position of the sensor to centimetre precision at all times.

‘Metal detection and GPR are not easy to combine into a single device,’ explained project lead Professor Anthony Peyton. ‘Standard GPR units are typically composed of metal and this naturally interferes with metal detectors. We overcame this with a new GPR design that uses the absolute minimal amount of metal without compromising performance.

‘Now that the two detectors are housed in a single unit, we needed to make sure both work in parallel, collecting data simultaneously. It has been working well in the lab of course, but out in the field there are always unforeseen challenges.’

The great news for the Project SEMIS team is the advanced metal detector and GPR units were both collecting simultaneous data successfully from an early stage in the testing. And there were other encouraging signs from the detector tests as well.

Doctor Liam Marsh was especially pleased with the data produced by the advanced metal detection sensor. ‘We conducted most of our testing on the extremely non-cooperative soil lane at the facility, and our metal detection design coped with the conditions extremely well. This is significant because when a detection technology can cope with non-cooperative soil there is a much better chance for that technology to be widely used.’

Project SEMIS is currently in the early stages of Phase II, which will conclude in roughly eighteen months. By that stage the team should have a working prototype that will be ready for final testing.

In the meantime, the team will be returning to Benkovac roughly every six months to measure their progress. Once all the data from the recent visit has been sifted through the team will set targets for their next visit, currently planned for Autumn 2017.