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Solar Powered Mine Mule

(Yes, another solar power idea)
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I like solar power. It is very cool. I don't like mines. I met this kid who was about a year or two older than me, and his cousin and him got blown up by mines while playing soccer/footbal/whatever people round here call it. He survived, but they couldn't re-attach most of his fingers, and his cousin died. They moved to Australia after that.

This is for countries that have had war/civil wars in the past few years and mines are still a problem, as they can re-surface in the summer and bury down in the winter, or something like that.

Why not the Solar Powered Mule? It is solar powered, made probably from scrap, and it will walk around fields where there are mines, and if there are mines, they'll blow up, but it'll be cheap to re-make them, or replace them.

The mules will have solar panels on them, and every day, they will walk all around areas where mines are suspected to be, and it will get rid of ones that are there, and once all the mines are gone, they can be used like normal mules, to carry stuff and people.

froglet, Mar 23 2005

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       Plus farmers could use it to bring stuff to and from farmhouse or something like that. Or it could be a kids' toy...
froglet, Mar 23 2005
  

       While messier, it is less expensive by far to use non-solar animals for this task. I suggest we use kangaroos in afghanistan, because, they can't handle an afghan winter. If mine-clearing kangaroos escape, they won't make it far.
Madai, Mar 23 2005
  

       Agreed - though cruel, it's true that a mule is cheaper than a solar-powered robot.
david_scothern, Mar 23 2005
  

       Jeez! Where did that happen? Where do (did) you live?
DesertFox, Mar 23 2005
  

       I lived in Australia before I moved here. My mum was a PE teacher, and she taught the accelerated laguage students, who'd come from places like Afghanistan, Sudan, and so on. The boy I mentioned, I think he was Serbian, and he was playing footy with his cousin, and they dropped the ball into bushes, and when they went to get it, they found an old land mine, that had eroded up from the civil war. It blew his cousin up, and he lost a few fingers, and was scarred all down the right side of his torso.   

       He and his family then moved to Australia.
froglet, Mar 24 2005
  

       That is why I live in the United States of America. Ok, not really, but jeuse, that's terrible!   

       What sucks now, is that plastic explosives have been invented, and metal detectors won't be able to detect em anymore! I remember some cross sections of old WW2 mine destroying tanks, that had huge metal balls on chains, that whirled around on a cylinder, striking the ground, blowing up mines.
EvilPickels, Mar 24 2005
  

       Hey Guys! I think that we could sereously build something like what is suggested here! We could build a solar powered tank that would use vareous means of finding both plastic and metal explosives. froglet and EvilPickels, email me if you would like to work on developing this idea... fity0401@stcloudstate.edu
fity, Mar 27 2005
  

       Make it with long legs - that way you might be able to keep most of the robot intact. One mule per mine is going to be v expensive - these things are laid in large numbers.
moomintroll, Mar 27 2005
  

       Forget the mules, just use mime troops. 2 birds and all that.
RayfordSteele, Mar 29 2005
  

       [EvilPickles] Terahertz radiation, T-rays, can soon be used to search for plastic explosives and mines underground.
FarmerJohn, Mar 29 2005
  

       [EvilPickels] You're probably thinking of one of 'Hobart's Funnies' that were used for the D-Day landings; it was a tank chassis with a de-mining flail attached to the front. A few years ag some guy came up with an armoured de-mining flail (armoured so that it caught the shrapnel instead of letting it fly everywhere) that attached to a tractor using standard equipment mountings, it's a good way of setting off mines but I dunno how well it works for anti-tank ones which only go off when something as heavy as a tank drives over them. Having said that, not even the most grossly obese American could set one off; I think they only go off under a weight of 30 tonnes or something like that so they aren't much of a risk to humans or wildlife.
squigbobble, Apr 29 2005
  

       nice intentions, but this is only 1/100th baked. Won't work for too many obvious reasons.
sophocles, Apr 29 2005
  

       I envision this as a big box full of rocks, with one long leg on either side. The solar panel winds a spring. When adequately wound, it whips the legs over and the whole thing lurches up, forwards and down. By making one leg shorter than the other it could go in circles. If the short leg gradually became shorter (probably by telescoping in, not via mine action) the thing would go in concentric circles, and would eventually clear the whole field.   

       The up and over action would allow it to clear low obstacles. If the "box" were a bottom weighted oval, the entire mule might even survive mine blasts, land on its bottom, and proceed on its way.
bungston, Apr 29 2005
  

       I envision these things as immensely durable. Kids would use them for target practice. Dogs would bark as the mule lumbered by. People would paste advertisements on them and lash brassieres onto them. Sometimes they would make their way into towns and impromptu parades would form behind them. Eventually old ones would lie half buried, overgrown with flowers, the remaining leg still twitching in the dim light.
bungston, Apr 29 2005
  

       ok, [bungston] has brought this from 1/100th to a full 1/2-baked state, so my fishbone is removed.
sophocles, Apr 29 2005
  

       I've seen various land-mine-triggering robots and vehicles from time to time on TV, each destined to clear the world of this scourge. Most of them seem simple and practical and can be shown to work. But none of them ever seem to get used. Every few years, another one gets invented, tested, and then sinks without trace.

I assume (sadly) that it's not lack of a suitable technology that is the underlying problem, but lack of will (and probably lack of even minimal funding) to really address the problem.
Basepair, Apr 29 2005
  

       It's also a lack of reliability. You can't just clear most of the mines. You have to guarantee that every single mine on that piece of land has been removed.
omegatron, Aug 15 2005
  

       I was thinking about mines again after the recent suggestion that prisoners be used to march over mine fields. I was thinking about goats, but then thought again about the robot Mine Mule. I like the Mine Mule.   

       The mine mule could be tethered with a central tether which would compel it to travel in an ever enlarging spiral. This would make sure the mule traversed every section of a field. One problem would be partially forested regions, as I imagine might eventually be the case for mined areas that cannot be farmed; trees would catch the tether The mine mule could use GPS to travel in the spiral, obviating the need for the tether and making the mine mule better than a goat for this purpose.
bungston, Dec 04 2009
  
      
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