Tethered land robots for clearance and demining operations

Tethered land robots for clearance and demining operations.

The challenge
Develop an effective, reliable, safe and rapid mine clearance alternative to the existing manual techniques and to radio frequency controlled robots.

Major constraints
The solution must demonstrate

  • an easy operation
  • compactness
  • a high bandwidth allowing video and control transmissions
  • a very low bending radius compatible with a robust use on the field

SEDI-ATI solution
The original solution from SEDI-ATI is relaying on a proprietary designed spool, using an ultra-light and disposable optical fiber. The low weight of such a spool allows its installation on board of the robot itself. The deployment of the fiber is thus managed directly by the robot avoiding any traction. As a consequence, low size (250 or 350 µm) and low-cost fibers can be used and left on the field. The proposed spools can be realized with different lengths of fiber, adapted to the mission. This concept of one spool for one mission allows to avoid any handling as well as to get more reactivity on the field for shorter missions.

Advantages of the SEDI-ATI solution

  • low-cost and easy to use on the field
  • one spool installed on the robot for one mission
  • highly reliable
  • fiber to be unwound over long distances up to 1 km

Tethered land robots for clearance and demining operations

SEDI-ATI offers disposable ultra-lightweight and compact fiber optic spools directly mounted onto tethered ground robots for clearance and demining operations.

As of November 2018, there is no credible estimate of the total number of mines in the ground worldwide, however their number might still exceed 100 million across 56 states and four other areas. Also, despite the Ottawa Treaty aiming at eliminating anti-personnel landmines around the world, and signed by 164 countries, there would be 2 to 5 million new mines continuing to be laid every year.

Live landmines can lie in the ground for decades. Depending on their type, they can be triggered by pressure (from above or on a wire), movement, sound, noise (random electrical voltages), magnetism, vibration, and radio or other signals.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross [ICRC], landmines are currently still responsible for casualties on more than 26,000 persons every year.

Detecting and neutralizing landmines thanks to robots is the ideal solution to improve operational performance and increase the safety of human deminers by distancing them from the threat.

The major technical challenge for safe unmanned robots in the detection and clearance of landmines, is having the ability to remotely operate them at large distances (> 300 m) without any radio frequency [RF] signal that might interfere with another signal and hence potentially trigger the explosion of the landmine.

In addition to having immunity to electromagnetic interference [EMI], the perfect solution requires a high bandwidth to support real-time signal processing (from several sensors) and decision making.

SEDI-ATI has designed a range of disposable and lightweight fiber optic spools for tethered vehicles that meet all the requirements! The spool, also called “tape”, is directly mounted onto the unmanned ground vehicle [UGV] that deploys the optical cable.

SEDI-ATI fiber optic spools for tethered vehicles are composed of a very compact and light package in which is included a precision wound untwisted 250 µm optical fiber allowing long distance deployment up to 1 km. The fiber is reinforced with a 350 µm coating for optimum resistance allowing high speed payout. The deployable side of the spool is equipped with a connector to be connected to the control station, and the opposite fiber end is pigtailed with a 1.8 mm standard jacket to be connected to a hermetic feedthrough on the UGV. And of course, we can design tapes with different optical fiber lengths, depending on the mission.

Another significant advantage of our solution is that the optical cable can be dumped on the minefield, allowing to shorten the clearance missions since there is no need to rewind the cable.

SEDI-ATI solution has already been deployed in airports for security checking of unattended luggage or parcel bombs, in refinery plants where RF signals are prohibited, in nuclear or mining plants, pipelines, tunnels and sewerage systems, where RF signals cannot be transmitted.

We are also very proud at SEDI-ATI to have contributed to the 14 July 2019 parade on the Champs-Elysées in Paris where the French Army showed line-guided unmanned land robots equipped with our fiber spool solution to communicate with the operator. Relive that event watching this nice video on our YouTube channel.