There are many of millions of buried land mines in nearly 80 countries around the world. They cause thousands of casualties each year, mostly civilians, including many children. Around half the casualties die. The other half lead dramatically altered lives. The cost to remove or destroy a mine is more than fifty times the cost to produce one, so at present levels of funding, and with the current best methods of location, it may take hundreds of years to remove them all.
Metal detectors and probing with spikes remain the main methods used in demining. These are effective, but make for slow progress in the face of minimum-metal (plastic) mines. Over 90% of demining time and resources may be spent painstakingly exposing harmless scrap. Worse yet, deminer casualties are common - around one deminer for every 1000 mines recovered.
We are working on a subsurface radar imaging device that might help.
Common ground penetrating radar (GPR) is impulse radar, and is sensitive to plastic (as well as metal) mines, but the equipment is expensive. Our holographic radar uses a continuous-wave (CW) transmitter that is a fraction of the cost of GPR, and makes an image using the changes in phase of signals reflected by buried objects. The image is easy to read - even for non-experts - allowing actual mines to be distinguished from war zone clutter like shrapnel and tins. It could be a tool that leads to easier, safer, and cheaper landmine clearance.