Monster Machines: The Flailing Automated Landmine Hunter

Afghan roads routinely used by American forces are popular targets for IED mining — so much so that de-mining 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-tonne 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 seven metres long, 2.7 metres tall and two metres wide; tipping the scales at nearly 20 tonnes. The MV10's 766HP John Deere inline six turbo diesel is the strongest engine in its class, allowing the vehicle to clear up to 5000sqm an hour — five times that of the Digger D-3 — at depths up to nearly 60cm, 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 30cm of armour. 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 2000 metres, well beyond explosive range of most IEDs.

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

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