“When I first heard about HALO’s work, I knew I wanted to get involved. I see so much potential in how we can really revolutionise finding and clearing landmines. It would be a game-changer for the humanitarian field.”

Ryan “Rooster” Osteroos, CEO, One Engineering

Locating and identifying landmines, bombs, and improvised explosives is time intensive and can take many months, or even years. Through conventional means, these deadly devices must be carefully located by hand, one-by-one, resulting in a painstakingly slow process.

However, recent developments in sensor technology and aerial drones led the US Air Force Academy (USAFA), The HALO Trust, and One Engineering to ask: Can technology find bombs from the air, before they led to deaths and injuries on the ground? This three-way partnership is working with America’s next generation of leaders and engineers to solve today’s humanitarian challenges

On the Cutting Edge of Innovation

Working closely with Ryan “Rooster” Osteroos, CEO of One Engineering, a USAFA grad and pilot, and the USAFA team, HALO is hoping to revolutionise our work. Drones that are equipped with advanced sensors can efficiently detect bombs quicker than a human eye or a civilian swinging a metal detector. The drone and sensor packages can save time, resources, and most importantly, lives.

The first trials took place this summer at USAFA in Colorado Springs, CO. After several of long days creating dummy landmines and setting up the test course in the summer heat, the team was ready for the task at hand. Equipped with a magnetometer, thermal camera, multi-spectral camera, and ground-penetrating radar, the drone systems were deployed to “see” potential hazards while viewing large swaths of land from the air. 

The Road Ahead

The initial test trials proved to be successful, with each device able to detect the replica landmines and explosives from the ground. With the first trial complete, more steps are needed to perfect how they can be used, and we hope to do so by soon conducting tests within HALO’s country programs.

Partnerships, such as those with One Engineering and USAFA, help pioneer innovation by providing charities like HALO with expertise and resources that would otherwise be unavailable. HALO also works with the U.S. Department of Defense to test new demining equipment, some of which has been adapted as standard issue, significantly improving our work in places like Afghanistan, Colombia, and Kosovo.