Aug. 18 (UPI) -- The Army has developed a new system for land mine identification that it says will greatly reduce false alarm rates.
Vadum, Inc., North Carolina State University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Army Research Office all collaborated to develop the Vibration-ENhanced Underground Sensing system -- or Venus, the Army said on Tuesday.
Instead of detecting the electromagnetic signature of the mine, which can be confused with other buried metal objects or with wet or magnetic patches of soil, the Venus system uses a pulsed magnetic field to stimulate the metal parts inside a landmine to vibrate.
According to the Army, other buried objects don't respond to the magnetic pulse of the Venus system -- and those that do have "very different vibrational characteristics."
"Fewer false alarms will significantly reduce the cost of humanitarian landmine clearance operations and provide greater road mobility by avoiding unnecessary route detours. With this new technology, landmines can be detected without digging," said the Army's release.
The Army has awarded the research team an additional two-year Phase II STTR contract to mature the technology and make it ready for outdoor testing at the Army's range.
Earlier this year, the Pentagon announced it would roll back restrictions on land mine use, drawing criticism from Congressional Democrats as well as human rights organizations that have advocated for a total ban of antipersonnel land mines, which continue to threaten human lives long after wars end.
A September 2002 Government Accountability Office report, for example, said contractors found nearly 2,000 land mines in Kuwait that had failed to self-detonate.
Even though they were "smart," nonpersistent mines, they may still have caused injuries, including civilian casualties and injuries to U.S. troops that may have been inaccurately attributed to enemy mines, the GAO said.