De-mining systems for NCTs1 September 2013
As improvised explosive devices continue to evolve, landmine clearers and firefighters are increasingly reliant on remotely operated technologies to maintain safety during operations. Subeije Kalo of DOK-ING looks at the latest developments in this critical field.
Can you briefly introduce yourself as a company?
Subeije Kalo: Following the 1991-95 Croatian war of independence, there was a strong need for humanitarian mine and unexploded ordinance (UXO) clearance. In 1996, DOK-ING began to research and develop a machine to complete this task.
Since designing and manufacturing the first humanitarian mechanical de-mining system, DOK-ING has widened its activities into two further fields: mining and firefighting.
What are today's main mine clearance challenges?
With a number of countries and regions currently at war, and new improvised explosive devices (IEDs) continuing to be developed, there's a constant need to improve mine clearance systems. Detectors must be more accurate and versatile enough to handle many potential scenarios.
Are firefighting systems successfully keeping pace with market requirements?
Fighting the flames produced by terrorism and war is always more difficult than naturally occurring or urban fires. Like mine clearance machines, effective firefighting machines require multifunctional solution systems. Robotic firefighting systems are being seriously considered, particularly in the wake of the Fukushima accident. Very few companies or R&D institutions, however, are actually laying the foundations for the serial production of unmanned remote-controlled multifunctional firefighting systems.
This is definitely the niche that DOK-ING is trying to fill, having recently introduced its latest design - the MVF-5 - into the most demanding firefighting markets in the world.
Could you tell us more about the MVF-5?
A multifunctional remote-controlled robotic firefighting system, the MVF-5 has been developed to extinguish fires in life-threatening conditions and inaccessible areas while also allowing operators to maintain a safe distance. The MVF-5's low centre of gravity, powerful engine and compact structure lend it excellent manoeuvrability. With a design based on those used in de-mining systems, it is also capable of surviving strong detonations and a range of other hazards. Equipped with the latest firefighting technologies, plus two storage containers for water and foam that can be used separately or in tandem, the MVF-5 can extinguish fires with minimal damage to itself and its operators.
What are the key design features of your mine clearance systems?
The MV-4 Mine Clearance System is a tracked, remote-controlled device designed to clear anti-personnel (AP) mines and UXO. Its small size and high manoeuvrability allow it to operate in areas that can be challenging for larger machines, such as forests and backyards.
It has a range of tool attachments, including a segmented roller, dozer blade, forklift and bucket, and also supports a gripper and explosive ordinance disposal (EOD) arm. It can destroy the smallest AP blast pressure mines along with the most dangerous types of bouncing fragmentation mines and, with such a wide range of tools, can also be used for civilian operations.
Our high-powered MV-10 Double Tool Mine Clearance System has an exceptional clearance rate for all types of mine, UXO and terrains. It is the only medium-class de-mining system with a double clearance tool (flail and tiller) that operates independently or simultaneously. Additional tools include the roller and blade/gripper unit.
Both of these systems can also be equipped with a complex video system, making them suitable for EOD applications. Unlike most other EOD robots, they are not only capable of carrying out reconnaissance, but can also move potentially dangerous objects to a safe area, even if they weigh tons.
Our MV-4 and MV-10 systems were designed and developed specifically for humanitarian and military de-mining; we did not use an existing machine as a platform. They have a range of tool attachments and perform well in the most dangerous conditions.
The systems are also significantly more efficient than manual de-mining. Not only can more land be cleared, but the remote control possibilities also mean more lives are saved.
Do you have any new products in the pipeline?
The chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) defence market has grown rapidly in recent years. We are now modifying our MVF-5 towards CBRN applications in line with this trend.