Deminers around the globe are still using handheld metal detectors that lack the capability to distinguish mines from clutter, detect mines containing very little metal, or find mines buried at deeper depths. In the southern African country of Angola, many areas and roads are impassable due to the threat of anti-tank landmines. Some of these mines are undetectable using current metal detector technology. The US Army has funded the development of the NIITEK ground penetrating radar (GPR) for detection of anti-tank (AT) landmines. This radar detects metal and plastic mines as well as mines that are buried too deep for handheld metal detectors to find. The US Department of Defense Humanitarian Demining (HD) Research & Development Program focuses on developing, testing, demonstrating, and validating new technology for immediate use in humanitarian demining operations around the globe. The HD team provided funding and guidance to NIITEK Incorporated for development of a prototype system called Mine Stalker - a relatively light-weight, remote-controlled vehicle outfitted with the NIITEK GPR, detection algorithms, and a marking system. Individuals from the HD team, NIITEK Inc, and the non-governmental organization Meschen Gegen Minen (MgM) participated in a field evaluation of the Mine Stalker in Angola. The primary aim was to evaluate the effectiveness and reliability of the NIITEK GPR under field conditions. The Mine Stalker was extremely reliable during the evaluation with no significant maintenance issues. All AT mines used to verify GPR performance were detected, even when buried to depths as deep as 25-33cm.
The Humanitarian Demining Research and Development Program of the US Army RDECOM CERDEC Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD), under the direction of the Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (OASD SO/LIC) and with participation from the International Test and Evaluation Program (ITEP) for humanitarian demining, conducted an in-country field evaluation of the Handheld Standoff Mine Detection System (HSTAMIDS) in the southern African country of Namibia. Participants included the US Humanitarian Demining Team of NVESD; ITEP personnel from several member countries; deminers from two non-governmental organizations in Angola, Menschen Gegen Minen (MgM) and HALO Trust; and CyTerra Corporation. The primary objectives were to demonstrate the performance of the U.S. Army's newest handheld multisensor mine detector, the HSTAMIDS, to the performance of the metal detector being used by local demining organizations and also to assess the performance of deminers using the HSTAMIDS after limited experience and training.
The Humanitarian Demining Research and Development Program of Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD), under the direction of the Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (OASD/SOLIC) and with participation from the International Test and Evaluation Project (ITEP) for Humanitarian Demining, conducted an in-country field evaluation of HSTAMIDS in the region of Humanitarian Demining Unit #1 (HMAU1) in Thailand. Participants included the US Humanitarian Demining Team of NVESD, ITEP personnel, Thailand Mine Action Center (TMAC), HALO Trust organization from Cambodia, and CyTerra Corporation. The primary objectives were to demonstrate the performance of the U.S. Army's latest handheld multisensor mine detector, the AN/PSS-14, in a demining environment in comparison to the performance of the metal detector being used by the local deminers and also to assess the performance of the trained deminers after limited experience and training with the HSTAMIDS.
A government-funded effort was initiated to further develop algorithms based on the technology used in the U.S. Army’s latest handheld standoff mine detection system (HSTAMIDS). To this end, a complete multisensor (EM/GPR) baseline signature data set was acquired in the spring of 2003 over targets of interest for landmine detection. These were provided at a government-run test site in the eastern U.S. where hundreds of buried inert mines and discrete clutter objects are available for such signature measurements. Bringing the HSTAMIDS detector technology to this site, in conjunction with a tethered data acquisition hardware and platforms, resulted in a complete baseline multisensor signature data collection. Due to the multisensor nature of the HSTAMIDS technology, the properties of this data collection include total and real-time collocation of electromagnetic and radar sensors. Processed examples of signatures of objects of interest from this baseline signature data set are presented here, along with a summary of the use to which this data set has been put so far. The means for future requests for access to the baseline data set by individual researchers for further algorithm work are also detailed.
Newer detectors are growing in capability to discriminate those signals measured over mines from those signals that can be causally related to local variations in the soil. Monitoring and measuring the key properties governing these local variations are being looked at increasingly as a means to predict performance measures for given detectors, as well as to counter the occurrence of such signals in an effort to minimize false alarms. Currently, an ongoing government research project working to develop enhancements to the Handheld Standoff Mine Detection System (HSTAMIDS) technology resulted in a series of data collections acquired in four different types of soil environments: 1) temperate/loamy, 2) temperate/grassy/gravel, 3) arid/gravel/sand, and 4) tropical/laterite. At each of these locations, data was collected using the HSTAMIDS technology to provide a range of environmental conditions against which the performance of this handheld detector could be assessed. This project is obtaining similar electrical and magnetic measurements in these areas to use these measurements to monitor any changes in detection performance that might be introduced due to local soil variations, as well as to provide a preliminary estimate of the robustness of future HSTAMIDS detection enhancements across a variety of environments.