Why cardboard sheets, disguised as turtles, are being used to detect landmines
Heroes in a half shell… cardboard power! Cardboard turtles can become useful little mine detectors. Image by Wasanajai (via Shutterstock).
Detecting landmines is a dangerous occupation. So much so that robotics and drones need to be deployed for this job. Only one problem with robotics is they are far from discreet, and look conspicuous from a short distance. According to an article in the New Scientist magazine, cardboard sheets could play a part in minesweeping.
How will the cardboard sheets be used? Shaped like sea turtles, a squadron of cardboard sheeted amphibians could be used to sweep past landmines. From a distance, they would look less conspicuous and resemble their genuine half-shelled peers.
With an algorithm programmed into its micro chip, each turtle can adjust to different conditions. This is where they trump robotic minesweepers where dust and dampness can get the better of them. Furthermore, they can work independently, which is one up on sniffer dogs that require dog handlers.
Another strength is their economy. Both in terms of the build time and the price of each turtle (a mere $80 – or at this time of writing, £62.14). Each turtle takes two to three hours to build – about the same time it takes to build an Airfix kit of a Spitfire plane. All it takes is two cardboard sheets, a motor, and a microprocessor. Motors are used to control the turtle’s fins.
The revolutionary minesweepers are being developed by Arizona State University. Their development is vital as 15,000 to 20,000 people a year have been maimed or killed by landmines. Its joint leader, Heni Ben Amor, envisages a future where a hundred origami tortoises could be used to undertake each operation.