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US Navy unveils new flying metal detector

2nd June 2017 - 15:09 GMT | by Alice Budge in London


A new unmanned mine detection system has been unveiled by the US Navy at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

The Mine Warfare Rapid Assessment Capability (MIW RAC) system is designed to help explosive ordnance disposal teams rapidly locate mines and dangerous obstacles during amphibious beach landings.

During the test, a drone accurately detected and localised a buried dummy mine while relaying real-time search data to the operator’s handheld device, a capability that according to Office of Naval Research (ONR) Command Master Chief Matt Matteson ‘could potentially save a lot of lives’.

Matteson explained in a 1 June release that the technology 'will help sailors and marines who are approaching a beachfront to rapidly clear or determine the location of mines’.

The system aims to provide a new, real-time aerial complement to the navy’s existing underwater mine-detection capabilities such as the ALMDS and mine-hunting sonar systems

MIW RAC consists of a lightweight quadcopter equipped with an ultra-sensitive magnetometer sensor system which provides an extensive detection range and the ability to differentiate between various objects using complex algorithms.

TechSolutions, the Office of Naval Research’s rapid-response science and technology programme, began developing the system in 2015, when the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command sent a request for an easy-to-use portable system that could detect potential hazards in surf zones.

According to Rosemarie elrich, a scientist at Naval Surface Warfare Centre, inspiration for MIW RAC was taken from a stationary scanning system, developed by Broadband Discovery Systems, that was capable of identifying the location of concealed weapons on a person.

This concept was then flipped on its head to develop an ultra-sensitive moving system capable of detecting and locating stationary objects.

Later this year, TechSolutions will deliver prototype MIW RACs to the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command’s explosive ordnance disposal group for further testing and evaluation with the aim of issuing the system throughout the fleet next year.

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