The development of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED's) by insurgents in Colombia is characterized by a
quick response to counter IED measures. Many current IED's do not contain any metal parts and can have any
shape or form. Due to the low metal content or the absence of any metal parts, sensors based on metal
detection are not useful anymore. Due to the wide variety of sizes, shapes, and enclosure materials of current
IED's, one and two-dimensional GPR sensors using a "library" of known shapes as well as acoustic sensors
using material characteristic frequencies have become ineffective. Therefore, the Colombian experience
strongly suggests that chemical sensors are the way for IED detection in soils since they do not depend on
IED metal content, size, or shape but only on the presence of explosives, a necessary ingredient for any IED.
Promising recently developed chemical sensors make use of semiconducting organic polymers (SOPs) such as
FIDO and laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS). Once an explosive has been detected, the IED
needs to be identified and located. Therefore, there is a need for three-dimensional high resolution scans for
identification of all subsoil features including rocks, roots, and IED's. The recently developed 3D-GPR
(Ground Penetrating Radar) can map all features of the subsoil with a spatial resolution of about 2 cm or less.
The objectives of this contribution are to inform about the IED problem in Colombia and how novel
technologies may contribute to humanitarian IED clearance under humid tropical conditions.