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Sci-Tech

Clearing land mines with the power of the wind

Design graduate Massoud Hassani has invented a wind-powered device to locate and clear land mines — based on a toy.

(Credit: Massoud Hassani)

Design graduate Massoud Hassani has invented a wind-powered device to locate and clear land mines — based on a toy.

It resembles an art project, something like the fantastical wind-powered beach monsters of Theo Jansen — but Massoud Hassani's Mine Kafon has a different purpose. Constructed of bamboo and biodegradable plastics, the sea-urchin-shaped object weighs enough to detonate mines — 70kg — dispersed over a 190cm diameter, so that it can be propelled by wind in open spaces.

When it rolls over a mine, only a few of its bamboo limbs are destroyed — meaning that each Mine Kafon can locate several mines before it is no longer able to move. Each Mine Kafon costs only €40 to make, compared to the usually high cost of removing mines.

The idea came from a childhood toy Hassani used to play with growing up in Qasaba, Kabul, a small, wind-powered ball that he and his brother had made, and the fact that many of their toys would be lost forever when they rolled into the mine zones, beyond the reach of safe retrieval.

Hassani said of his project, a re-creation of that favourite childhood toy:

Now if it rolls over a mine, the toy, now a Mine Kafon, will destroy itself and the landmine in the same time. Made from bamboo and biodegradable plastics, the Mine Kafon also has a GPS chip integrated in it. You can follow its movement on the website and see where it went, where are the safest paths to walk on and how many land mines are destroyed in that area. On paper, Afghanistan is said to have 10 million land mines. In truth, there are far, far more. Every destroyed land mine means a saved life, and every life counts.

Hassani plans to launch a Kickstarter to fund production of the Mine Kafon sometime this week. Stay tuned to his blog for details.