Powersoft aids in hunt for landmines

AUTHOR: Inavate

Powersoft’s DigiMod amplifier modules are being used in a research project to develop a new mine detection device. The project is being undertaken by an international group of scientists, including the University of Florence.

During the past 10 years, around 75,000 casualties from landmines and similar warfare devices were recorded, plus an unknown number of injuries estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. Despite an international campaign to ban landmines, supported by numerous organisations, celebrities, and a treaty signed by over 120 governments, hundreds of millions mines are still stockpiled by a number of countries and armed groups, and huge areas of land is still contaminated by landmines, putting further lives at risk.
Even where activity was or is under way to clean up regions of landmines, dedicated equipment to do so is scarce, and even then not perfectly safe to clearing an area; unfortunately, also due to the successful efforts of makers and users of these mines to hide them. Hence, researchers and engineers are working on technologies to further improve mine detecting and clearance equipment. Any improvement can result in thousands of lives saved, including those who are involved in the clean-up.
As part of an international group of scientists from five countries, the University of Florence (Università di Firenze) is helping with developing a new system for the detection of landmines. The system named "Rascan" is based on using sub-surface radar, and is able to create a holographic image of an area. Affordable, and easy to read even for non-experts, it can detect, identify and distinguish between unexploded mines, even plastic landmines, and the shrapnel and clutter of a typical war zone.
Professor Lorenzo Capineri, leading member of the team of Florentine scientists, describes the benefits of the Rascan system: "Our new holographic radar dramatically lowers the risk for the persons involved in mine clearance (on average one death occurs for every 1,000 mines recovered), to reduce error factors such as tiredness, as well as time and cost of clearing large areas from mines. Additionally, Rascan can also be used for non-destructive diagnostics of structural elements of masonry or wood, i.e. for the purpose of investigations of cultural heritage objects, or reinforced concrete, or similar."
Professor Capineri and Powersoft's managing director of R&D, Claudio Lastrucci, have been in contact since years. Himself a former student at the University of Florence, Mr Lastrucci gained interest in the Rascan project: "When the Rascan team required amplifiers, it was a no-brainer for us to help. In addition to us providing some other components, for driving the Rascan transducer our DigiMod 1000 proved to be right. It's got plenty of continuous power for the purpose, and as a result of efficiency it's compact and light-weight. So, we gave them some. One may call it sponsorship, but the price is nothing compared to the lives it can help saving."
Recently, Rascan was exhibited in London on the occasion of The Royal Society's 350th Anniversary Summer Science Festival, with HM Queen Elizabeth II among the popular visitors.
Work continues to make Rascan the badly needed better and safer device to find landmines, affordable also in developing countries, and operable by non-expert persons, to get rid of more buried mines faster.
Adds Professor Capineri: "In addition to our team member institutions, we wish to acknowledge the invaluable support, advice, and assistance of Powersoft for having supplied high-efficiency power amplifiers and sound sources to the group of scientists of the Department of Electronics and Telecommunications University of Florence for testing new methods of research based on acoustic waves."
Professor Capineri and his team are open to co-operation: anyone interested in investing in, sponsoring, or otherwise supporting the project may email directly to lorenzo.capineri@unifi.it.