This Automated Land Mine Hunter Finds Its Explosive Quarry by Flailing About

Afghan roads routinely used by American forces are popular targets for IED mining—so much so that demining patrols have become routine. But what to do when an IED is discovered? Sure, you could send in an EOD officer to carefully (and slowly) defuse that IED at great risk to his life—hello, Hurt Locker!—or you could just let this 20-ton tractor roll over and smash it with a friggin' hammer.

The M160 MV10 Double Tool Mine Clearance System is a remote-controlled, tracked vehicle built by the DOK-ING company to shatter or activate hidden IEDs, unexploded ordnance, anti-personnel, and anti-tank mines with a rapidly spinning flail. The machine measures 23 feet long, nine feet tall and seven feet wide; tipping the scales at nearly 21 tons. The MV10's 766 HP John Deere inline six turbo diesel is the strongest engine in its class, allowing the vehicle to clear up to 5000 square meters an hour—five times that of the Digger D-3—at depths up to nearly two feet, while climbing 37-degree slopes.

One of three attachments can be installed on the front end of the MV10—a flail/tiller, a gripper/blade, or a roller. The MV10 maintains a relatively low profile while clearing mines so as to avoid as much shrapnel as possible, though the entire machine is also encased in HARDOX steel plates; its bottom panel alone carries 30 cm of armor. And to ensure maximum protection for the single system operator (working as part of a three-man team with a pair of mechanics), the MV10 is driven remotely from a distance of nearly 2000m, well beyond explosive range of most IEDs.

There are more than 100 M160 deminers in use around the world and have cleared close to 35 million square meters of land. As Mark Decker, a technician trainer and instructor with the Robotics Systems Joint Project Office, quipped to Defense Talk, "never send a man to do a machine's job." [Defense Systems - Defense Talk - DOK-ING]