|Low cost robot ‘MURALI’ for de-mining|
|Thursday, 28 August 2008|
Landmines have become a severe threat, not only to people’s lives the world over, but also to the economic and social development of any country. Over the years, Sri Lanka too has had its share of the destruction caused by landmines, the effects of which are still felt by many victims. It is estimated that approximately 3.5 million landmines were discovered in the war torn areas of the country and the victims, mostly men, range between the ages of 20 and 45 years. Recognising the urgent need for a safe and reliable method of de-mining, the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded a special project at the University of Moratuwa to address this problem.
A team of scientists led by Dr. Trishantha Nanayakkara have invented a fully independent, intelligent, eight legged robot named MURALI (Moratuwa University Robot for Anti-Landmine Intelligence). This special robot is designed to detect landmines in areas covered with vegetation. The unique aspect of this robot is that it has enabled the Lankan team of scientists to unveil a low cost and reliable method of landmine detection in war torn areas.
This will in turn enable a quick and efficient means of resettling civilians displaced by the war. This research has demonstrated that the typical commercially available metal detectors are unsuccessful in differentiating between metal debris and landmines, resulting in several false detections. However, repeated tests have shown that MURALI has minimised the false alarm rate significantly, leading to faster de-mining of affected areas.
Furthermore, MURALI is more robust than the existing conventional landmine detection systems, and it possesses the ability to coordinate and lead a colony of robots for landmine detection in a given area. When MURLI detects a landmine, it has the capability to assume a leadership over the other satellite robots and command them on how they should move to support the master.The difference between MURALI and the other methods of landmine detection is that MURALI has the ability to access areas that are inaccessible by the other devices. Regular methods utilised in landmine detection are mechanical clearance and manual clearance, which are done with the support of both metal detectors and explosive-detection dogs. These two methods involve high-risk operations where even the slightest mistake will result in instant death. In addition, the use of ‘foreign’ robots has been identified as a viable means of detecting landmines more efficiently with minimal risks to lives.
However, some of these devices cannot be used in environments with undergrowth of shrubs or with trees. Moreover, they are too costly, requiring massive amounts of capital to be spent on purchasing such items. So far, the lack of cost effective and practical detection equipment in Sri Lanka has posed major challenges to humanitarian de-mining efforts undertaken by various individuals and organisations committed to finding long term solutions to this problem.
The NSF funded research project that invented MURALI, the de-mining robot, has been timely in its efforts at addressing this pressing problem which has posed serious threats, not only to the lives of people in Sri Lanka but to the country’s economic and social development as well.
(Courtesy : The Bottomline )
|Last Updated ( Monday, 09 March 2009 )|
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