Since its foundation, HALO has been at the forefront of developments in all aspects of mine clearance, from manual and mechanical mine clearance techniques to protective equipment, medical support, survey, mapping, information management, and more.
Many of the innovations that have emerged from our commitment to R&D are now standard procedures across the sector; we pioneered the use of ground-penetrating radar in humanitarian mine action, led the way in repurposing off-the-shelf mechanical plant for clearance and were first to use linear/lateral drills with detectors.
We continue to push the boundaries, frequently working in partnership with manufacturers of detection and mechanical equipment as well as developing techniques and equipment in-house. We work with Minelab, Ebinger Gmbh, Vallon Gmbh, Pearsons and we are also a partner of the US Army’s Humanitarian Demining R&D Program which leverages military technology for the benefit of the humanitarian sector.
Adaptive R&D for mine clearance
The aims of R&D are often to adapt existing techniques and equipment to new challenges. There are dozens of types of landmines, each with different detection characteristics, and we work in a huge variety of terrains from deserts to jungles, and beach to mountain tops. This means no technique works well everywhere.
Other than these particular challenges we are always trying to improve clearance productivity and value for money, without sacrificing the safety of our staff. Higher productivity means we can clear minefields faster and reduce the amount of time people have to live with the risk of death and injury, or with their land blocked from productive use.
Ideas for the future
Although we are always keen to push technology forward we do not usually have a lot of funding available for primary research or completely speculative developments which, typically, require time-consuming and costly field trials. We therefore need to be convinced of significant potential value before we can commit to such projects.
If you have an idea that would improve the efficiency of landmine clearance, we may well be interested in hearing from you but before you contact us, please consider the following:
- Are you replicating something that is already being done? There are many commercial companies, including the large defence contractors, who do research in this area.
- Consider the challenges we face in terms of terrain, such as steep slopes and dense vegetation. Minefields are often falsely conceived as looking like football pitches: in reality, removing 20 years of tropical undergrowth can be the most time-consuming part of clearance.
- The idea that remotely operated drones or robots will increase the safety of deminers is often false. The only really dangerous part of manual mine clearance is the individual investigation of each indication by the detector. Unless a robot is able to do this part of the process it will make virtually no difference to safety.
- Full mechanical clearance solutions can often be both unsuitable because of the amount of environmental destruction they cause (manual deminers can work around mature trees without damaging them) and uneconomical because of the logistical demands of getting fuel, spare parts, and mechanics to remote places.
These points are merely intended as a sense check. If you would still like to explore an idea with us, please email us.