Testing in Benkovac

Three FABW teams test mine detection technology in Croatia

Three Find A Better Way landmine detection research teams, two from the UK and one from Croatia, spent four days testing alongside each other at the Benkovac Test Site in Croatia between Friday 29 April and Monday 2 May.

Parallel testing by the three teams is a major step towards ensuring the technologies are compatible for future use. The researchers hope that results from work in a test environment  will improve their understanding of how to use their respective technologies in tandem.

The Benkovac Test Site, established in 2000, is a state-of-the art facility for landmine detection testing. The site includes forty-seven 1m wide lanes with over a thousand deactivated mines and ‘false alarm objects’ buried up to twenty-seven centimetres deep. Eight lanes are composed of uncooperative soil types. The teams from The University of Manchester, King’s College London, and the University of Zagreb will get the chance to test their research together in one of the best facilities in the world.

Speaking about the testing, Project SEMIS leader Professor Anthony Peyton from The University of Manchester said, ‘I’m delighted to have gone through this process with the team from King’s and Zagreb. Until you get out of the lab and into the field it’s impossible to understand how well a new design works, and it is great to go through this process with what we hope will be complementary technologies. We can also learn a lot from our Croatian colleagues who have many years’ experience of having to address the scourge of landmines on their own soil. If we all succeed together we will make demining faster, easier, and much, much safer.’

Professor Vedran Bilas from the University of Zagreb, who heads up Project PERUN which is working on ways to overcome ‘non-cooperative soils,’ is enthusiastic to be part of Find A Better Way’s efforts.  ‘The level of innovation in metal detectors for humanitarian demining has been too low for too long,’ he explained. ‘Find A Better Way are enabling technology from other industries to be incorporated into detection design for the first time. It is extremely important work and we are proud to be part of it.’

Find A Better Way CEO Lou McGrath, reacting to the tests, said, ‘We believe developing a multi detection system will not only add to the safety of deminers but also speed up the process of clearance. The testing being done in Croatia this week is an important step in that process.’

This story was also covered in today’s Arab Times.