Landmine clearance is a dangerous, time-consuming job. It used to involve tools like flail trucks, plows and the simple metal detector, but none are good enough to hit the 99.6% standard set by the United Nations for humanitarian demining.
A Canadian company, Mine Clearing Corp, is trying to change all that. It’s got a helicopter-mounted detection system that uses a ground-penetrating radar and metal detection system to detect buried objects from as high as 200ft up in the air. The location can then be pinpointed to as close as 20cm.
Once that’s accomplished, minesweepers on the ground can use a tool called the Fig8 to locate the mine. Quite niftily, the swinging back-and-forth motion generates kinetic energy which powers the device, so it doesn’t need batteries – useful in the third world. Considering that the UN estimates that someone dies every 20 minutes from a landmine, this should help step up the de-mining procedure.
Evil geniuses, take note. Your army of drone planes that currently need to be controlled by an army of assistants will, in March, become obsolete when Tokyo-based Taiyo corp releases a voice-controlled toy helicopter. It’s going to understand English and Japanese, and understands “”start engine,” “up,” “hold,” “down” and “stop”. No “forward”?
It’s battery-powered, 18cm long, and can fly 10m away from the operator. You need to wear a headset to control it, too. Still, it’s likely you’ll be able to mod it to carry tiny miniguns, and hack it to fire on voice command, too. If everything goes wrong, you can control it by conventional remote, too. It’ll cost $60 (£42 or so).
Mubarak Muhammad Abdullahi is a 24-year-old physics undergraduate from Nigeria. He might not live to be a 25-year-old physics undergraduate, thanks to his fondness of building helicopters himself out of scrap metal.
The engine comes out of a Honda Civic, the seats from a Toyota…
Dame Shirley Bassey had a narrow escape this weekend, following her triumphant set at Glastonbury. No, she didn’t eat one of the burgers. It’s just another case of helicopter malfunctions repeating, I’m afraid.
Flying a remote-controlled helicopter around the living room? It can only end in tears. Maybe installing those crystal chandeliers was a bad idea… Nevertheless, if you’re brave enough for some lounge chopper action, the Walkera 5-6 Genius Chopper is well worth a look.
If you’re going to have an RC copter, it may as well be bright yellow. At least your cat will see it coming and have a fighting chance of getting out of the way. See, it’s an indoor helicopter, which…