EOD personnel would have a hell of a lot easier time if people would stop burying their IEDs. But since that's obviously not going to happen, Office of Naval Research is funding the development of an ordnance detection system that "sees" through the ground with sound waves.
The GREMLIN — which they somehow got from Ground-Based Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobile Laser Interrogation — is being built by BAE systems. It will employ an on-board acoustic source to vibrate the ground in front of it — like ground penetrating radar but with a finer resolution. The reflected sound waves can then be analysed and interpreted in an image, showing the EOD team what's buried under the surface. Soft ground that's been recently disturbed returns a different image than hard-packed Earth. "We put sound into the ground, things vibrate and we image that expression of that vibration on the ground," Brian Almquist, the Navy's program officer for GREMLIN, told Danger Room.
The GREMLIN is designed to ride atop a ordnance disposal robot but won't be doing so any time soon. The Navy estimates it's roughly three years away from prototyping. But still, the payoff will be worth the wait. "We just want get the warfighter out of the minefield and put more capability onto robots," Almquist says, "so we can detect things in the ground rather than have a person go out there to risk their life." [Wired - Popular Science]