Feeds

The self-healing, self-hopping landmine

Welcome to Extreme Networking

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Only the well-funded geniuses at DARPA would describe their creation of hopping, networked explosives as "Self-Healing Mines."

No, the mines don't fit prosthetic limbs to maimed victims. So where does the Mine, Heal Thyself bit come from, then? It refers to the mines' "self-healing" ability to regroup by jumping up to 30m at a time and reform a solid wall after a tank, for example, has penetrated a minefield.

DARPA developed the mines for two reasons: first, the military needed a way for mines to react during enemy advances to stop troops from marching through a breach in a minefield; second, these anti-tank mines may eliminate the need for anti-personnel mines as they can move on their own.

Charities across the world are calling for the abolition of anti-personnel mines because of the havoc they wreak upon soldiers and civilians, often years after conflict has ended.

Anti-personnel explosives are designed to maim and disfigure anyone near them. According to The Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF), 18,000 people are injured by mines each year.

The VVAF said moving away from anti-personnel mines is a good thing.

"The anti-tank mines are less of a concern," said Marissa Vitagliano, director of research at VVAF. "We would like there to be no victim activated weapons period, but we are in favor of any alternatives to anti-personnel and anti-tank mines, as long as they have a man in the loop and are under control."

It's unclear how under control DARPA's hopping mines are due to their ability to move about on their own accord.

Some designs have the mines connected via short-range radio networks with algorithms measuring out distances between each mine and planning the best way to reform as group. Other approaches have the mines connected via a wireless network. Some of the mines move using rocket thrusters, others use a hopping mechanism and hold enough fuel to make 100 leaps.

Early indications show the hopping mines will kill as no mines have killed before.

"Since the minefield is no longer a static obstacle, an open breach cannot be maintained," DARPA said. "The Self-Healing Minefield forces the enemy to attack the minefield and deplete the antitank mines surrounding the breaching lane by either repeated assaults or a wide area breach/clearance."

Which is not nice.

These mines can be passed only by an all out suicide march, and, if an opposing army turns away instead, civilians face an ever-changing, hopping aggressor engineered by the U.S's finest minds.

The animation provided by DARPA on the mines is a must see. The same brains that created the Internet have clearly mastered Flash as well. Watch it till to the end, as the Knight chess piece gives you a wink.

DARPA has already run tests with the hopping mines and wants to soon move the project along to the U.S. Army. ®

Related story

Robogrunt: the US military's plans for robot armies

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Oracle reveals 32-core, 10 BEEELLION-transistor SPARC M7
New chip scales to 1024 cores, 8192 threads 64 TB RAM, at speeds over 3.6GHz
Docker kicks KVM's butt in IBM tests
Big Blue finds containers are speedy, but may not have much room to improve
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
Gartner's Special Report: Should you believe the hype?
Enough hot air to carry a balloon to the Moon
Flash could be CHEAPER than SAS DISK? Come off it, NetApp
Stats analysis reckons we'll hit that point in just three years
Dell The Man shrieks: 'We've got a Bitcoin order, we've got a Bitcoin order'
$50k of PowerEdge servers? That'll be 85 coins in digi-dosh
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.