1. Post #1


    BBC - Mine Kafon: Wind-blown landmine clearance
    A simple device that is designed to clear some of the millions of landmines scattered around the world offers a lesson in thoughtful design and adaptation.

    The global statistics on land mines and their effects make sobering reading. According to the United Nations, up to 110 million mines have been laid across more than 70 countries since the 1960s and that between 15,000 and 20,000 people die each year because of them.
    Many of the victims are civilians - children, women and the elderly - not soldiers. Thousands more are maimed. Moreover, mines are cheap. The UN estimates that some cost as little as $3 to make and lay in the ground. Yet, removing them can cost more than 50 times that amount. And the removal is not without human cost either. The UN says that one mine clearance specialist is killed, and two injured, for every 5,000 mines cleared.
    One of the worst affected countries is Afghanistan, with an estimated 10 million land mines contaminating more than 200 square miles of land. It is something that Massoud Hassani, who grew up in the northern part of Kabul, knows that all too well. "We lived out by the airport, and there's a big desert out there where all different militaries trained," Hassani tells me. "It was a real war zone. They left a lot of explosives, including land mines."
    "But, it was our playground," Hassani continues. "When we were kids, we used to make these wind-powered toys, and play with them on this desert full of explosives, and they'd get stuck out there."
    Hassani's family left Afghanistan in 1993, moving around different countries before eventually settling in The Netherlands. Hassani tried studying different subjects, but nothing grabbed him. And then, one day, a colleague at a security company noticed him drawing. "I was doing a job just sitting all day long in a building, and I was sketching because I was really bored. And my colleague suggested that I do something creative."
    He eventually ended up at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, where his experience of Afghanistan’s mine fields would serve as inspiration for a unique device. Whilst looking for ideas for his final project, one of his professors suggested he look to his Afghan roots for inspiration. Hassani says he thought back to that desert north of Kabul filled with land mines, and those small, wind-powered toys that used to skip across it. "My teachers told me to make a link between them," Hassani says. And that is how the Mine Kafon was born.
    Explosive conclusion
    Hassani has designed and built, by hand, a wind-powered ball that is heavy enough to trip mines as it rolls across the ground. Each $50 device looks like an artwork inspired by a starburst. In the middle of the Kafon is a 17kg (37lb) iron casing surrounded by dozens of radiating bamboo legs that each have a round plastic "foot" at their tip. Inside the ball is a GPS unit to map where it has been – and in theory cleared of mines. Around the iron ball is a suspension mechanism, which allows the entire Kafon to roll over bumps, holes and so forth. In all, it weighs a little more than 80kg (175lb). The idea is that it is light enough to be pushed by the wind, but heavy enough to trip mines. Hassani thinks that humanitarian organizations could take Kafons with them into areas suspected of being mined, and then let the wind do the dangerous work.
    "Nowadays people search for mines by hand, and it takes a lot of time," Hassani says. "People walk along, sticking things into the ground. Many are not trained to do it, and there are a lot of accidents." He believes that the mine Kafon could be a safer, and cheaper, alternative. He has spent the last year and a half improving his invention, has also teamed up with the Dutch military and the country's Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit to test it.
    "When we work for the UN we have to prove that an area is 98% clear of mines and fragments," says Henk van der Slik, head of the Dutch EOD unit, who has 23 years of experience in de-mining.
    "Normally, we use dogs and mine-detectors. Even if a mine has less than one gram of metal, we can find it."

    But, he say, that takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money “because you have to dig out every metal part you detect”.
    “You don't know whether it is actually a mine or not until you excavate it," he says.
    As a result, you would think that devices like the Kafon, which in theory can speed up this process or take some of the danger out of the equation, would be seen as a quick and easy win. Unfortunately, the tests did not draw the same conclusion.
    "It's not suitable for de-mining activities," was van der Slik’s stark analysis. In other words, if the idea is that the Kafon can hit a mine, survive the blast, and then continue to roll on and detonate other mines and eventually clear an area, then van der Slik says it will not work. As it stands, he says, 100g of explosive (the average for antipersonnel mines) stops the Kafon dead it in its tracks right in the middle of a probable mine field, which would make retrieval and repair very dangerous. There are also a couple of other obvious drawbacks. First, you have to have a wind blowing for the Kafon to move. And second, it will only work on fairly flat and open terrain, like a desert. It isn't designed to move in jungles and the like.
    Also, van der Slik notes, "when the Kafon is rolling, it would activate trip wires (on fragmentation mines)." If the mine explodes into fragments, he says, it causes “bigger problems”, because in subsequent sweeps “every fragment will be detected as a potential mine." In other words, more metal pieces mean more work for the human de-miners who have to prove 98% clearance.
    So not a resounding success, for what seemed like a good idea on paper. But van der Slik says not all is not lost; Hassani's mine Kafon could have other uses.
    "The aim is maybe when you have an area of potential risk, you don't know if there are mines, and people are afraid to go in, then you can work with this design and when you have a detonation, you know there are mines, because mines are never alone," he says. "Then you can mark the area as a dangerous area. It's a more humanitarian aim, for marking a potential area."
    It’s an idea that resonates with Hassani who, rather than being disappointed that the tests undermined the original idea for the Kafon, is excited about improving the design so that it can be used in the way van der Slik describes. For example, he tells me, it's clear that he needs to find a way to strengthen the device so that it won't lose as many legs when it explodes. "That's why you do the tests," Hassani says, "to see how it gets damaged."
    The Kafon was recently selected as a finalist for the 2012 Design of the Year award at the Design Museum in London. And he says he's working to improve the design of the bamboo-legged device, and is talking with engineers to improve both the form and function of it. He also says he's also working on another, more cylindrical version that could potentially detonate more mines at a time.
    Right now, Hassani says, further development of the mine kafon idea is his full-time job. He's actively looking to partner with like-minded organizations, and get enough money to move the project out of the prototype phase and into real field tests.
    "If that works," Hassani says, "then we can really ramp up the project."
    Tl;dr - wind blown $50 balls are used to identify areas where mines may be present since it had problems with large-scale sweeping. Nonetheless, neat.
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  2. Post #2
    ~blue 4evr~
    tehMuffinMan's Avatar
    October 2009
    10,794 Posts
    Cool, but is it fuckable?

    (User was banned for this post ("Snipe / Shitpost" - Swebonny))
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  3. Post #3
    Gold Member
    x_xPwntx_x's Avatar
    June 2005
    350 Posts
    I envisioned rollermines repurposed for setting other mines off.
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  4. Post #4
    Apple extraordinaire~ ♥
    eddy-tt-'s Avatar
    April 2006
    5,505 Posts
    If he could make it out of something stronger than bamboo yet still keeping it light it would likely survive a few mine blasts. I guess its a good idea as its cheap but for mine detection you could just run a RC car over the top for the same price which I believe is already done by some military units.
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  5. Post #5
    RO
    RO's Avatar
    January 2012
    90 Posts
    Mine Kafon, turning a small mine into a giant airburst bamboo shard claymore
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  6. Post #6
    2014 SH Pun Award Nominee
    Awesomecaek's Avatar
    January 2009
    21,485 Posts
    If he could make it out of something stronger than bamboo yet still keeping it light it would likely survive a few mine blasts. I guess its a good idea as its cheap but for mine detection you could just run a RC car over the top for the same price which I believe is already done by some military units.
    I think the idea is you just scatter these around the mined deserts and they roll around due to wind and randomly blow the mines up with nobody around.
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  7. Post #7
    Jabberwocky's Avatar
    June 2007
    2,778 Posts
    Instantly reminded me of Katamari Damacy.
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  8. Post #8
    Valor
    Novangel's Avatar
    September 2008
    19,545 Posts
    Pretty cool design with a lot of drawbacks. The concept is novel though.

  9. Post #9
    I am a moderator.
    Swebonny's Avatar
    August 2006
    13,248 Posts
    By only looking at the two pictures I assumed it was some kind of Half Life rollermine....
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  10. Post #10
    Gold Member
    FreakyMe's Avatar
    December 2005
    4,947 Posts
    I think the idea is you just scatter these around the mined deserts and they roll around due to wind and randomly blow the mines up with nobody around.
    Imagine how tense it'd be if you were walking near known mine areas [lots of people in developing nations have to take these walks, due to the spread of mines in some areas] and a few came rolling your way, though?
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  11. Post #11
    Dennab
    December 2011
    5,623 Posts
    Imagine how tense it'd be if you were walking near known mine areas [lots of people in developing nations have to take these walks, due to the spread of mines in some areas] and a few came rolling your way, though?
    Grab your gonads, hit the ground and find God?

    Or casually strollout of their path and go on about your day, I suppose your choice depends on your sense of drama.
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  12. Post #12
    dubstep
    SCopE5000's Avatar
    August 2005
    4,197 Posts
    They should build a sort of huge lawnmower which automatically moves back and forward around a minefield.



    Yes! Perfect. Why don't they make something like that that can automatically go backwards and forwards around an area in programmed patterns, cause that seems it'd be much more effective than a load of randomly-rolling-around single-use devices like the ones pictured in OP.

    10 Million land mines over 200 square miles.. It'd take ages to do with an automated tank, but at least it'd be reusable and keep going. If the tank was moving at just 10 miles an hour you could cover 240 miles a day (It'd need to be continually filled, probably by dragging a pipeline of fuel around rather than being conventionally, manually filled.)

    And if you have to build 10 million of those tumbleweeds to clear the area, think of the cost then, and the amount of debris that is going to be left - and all of the mines that are gonna potentially be blocked by the debris (like if a tumbleweed lands depressing a mine and stops moving, as soon as it is manually moved, it's gonna blow up), and also that a tumbleweed is gonna occasionally roll straight past mines and there's probably going to be a lot of undetonated ones that are 'nearly hit' several times yet missed.
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  13. Post #13
    They should build a sort of huge lawnmower which automatically moves back and forward around a minefield.

    Yes! Perfect. Why don't they make something like that that can automatically go backwards and forwards around an area in programmed patterns, cause that seems it'd be much more effective than a load of randomly-rolling-around single-use devices like the ones pictured in OP.

    10 Million land mines over 200 square miles.. It'd take ages to do with an automated tank, but at least it'd be reusable and keep going. If the tank was moving at just 10 miles an hour you could cover 240 miles a day (It'd need to be continually filled, probably by dragging a pipeline of fuel around rather than being conventionally, manually filled.)

    And if you have to build 10 million of those tumbleweeds to clear the area, think of the cost then, and the amount of debris that is going to be left - and all of the mines that are gonna potentially be blocked by the debris (like if a tumbleweed lands depressing a mine and stops moving, as soon as it is manually moved, it's gonna blow up), and also that a tumbleweed is gonna occasionally roll straight past mines and there's probably going to be a lot of undetonated ones that are 'nearly hit' several times yet missed.
    tanks use lots of fuel though, so, that's an issue but, more effective.

    I guess if it saves people, that's what counts?

    that's if you don't run out of damn money using it, obviously.
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  14. Post #14
    Gold Member
    Griffster26's Avatar
    November 2011
    12,765 Posts
    They should build a sort of huge lawnmower which automatically moves back and forward around a minefield.



    Yes! Perfect. Why don't they make something like that that can automatically go backwards and forwards around an area in programmed patterns, cause that seems it'd be much more effective than a load of randomly-rolling-around single-use devices like the ones pictured in OP.

    10 Million land mines over 200 square miles.. It'd take ages to do with an automated tank, but at least it'd be reusable and keep going. If the tank was moving at just 10 miles an hour you could cover 240 miles a day (It'd need to be continually filled, probably by dragging a pipeline of fuel around rather than being conventionally, manually filled.)

    And if you have to build 10 million of those tumbleweeds to clear the area, think of the cost then, and the amount of debris that is going to be left - and all of the mines that are gonna potentially be blocked by the debris (like if a tumbleweed lands depressing a mine and stops moving, as soon as it is manually moved, it's gonna blow up), and also that a tumbleweed is gonna occasionally roll straight past mines and there's probably going to be a lot of undetonated ones that are 'nearly hit' several times yet missed.
    That was the greatest weapon in Company of Heroes.
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  15. Post #15
    Gold Member
    Maucer's Avatar
    August 2007
    2,316 Posts
    I'd imagine these aren't very effective. They probably move randomly for an awhile and then get stuck, I doubt wind is strong enough to lift this thing past a small 10cm high rock or a steep hill. Besides the ball only covers a small area and you could have hundreds of these roll around a square kilometer area, but it would still not be nearly as safe as if a minesweeper tank would have systematically swept the area.
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  16. Post #16
    Gold Member
    fluke42's Avatar
    November 2011
    484 Posts
    How the hell is that wind-blown if it weighs 175lbs?
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  17. Post #17
    Gold Member
    Foda's Avatar
    April 2006
    2,739 Posts
    They should build a sort of huge lawnmower which automatically moves back and forward around a minefield.



    Yes! Perfect. Why don't they make something like that that can automatically go backwards and forwards around an area in programmed patterns, cause that seems it'd be much more effective than a load of randomly-rolling-around single-use devices like the ones pictured in OP.

    10 Million land mines over 200 square miles.. It'd take ages to do with an automated tank, but at least it'd be reusable and keep going. If the tank was moving at just 10 miles an hour you could cover 240 miles a day (It'd need to be continually filled, probably by dragging a pipeline of fuel around rather than being conventionally, manually filled.)

    And if you have to build 10 million of those tumbleweeds to clear the area, think of the cost then, and the amount of debris that is going to be left - and all of the mines that are gonna potentially be blocked by the debris (like if a tumbleweed lands depressing a mine and stops moving, as soon as it is manually moved, it's gonna blow up), and also that a tumbleweed is gonna occasionally roll straight past mines and there's probably going to be a lot of undetonated ones that are 'nearly hit' several times yet missed.

    Cost

  18. Post #18
    I regularly throw pity parties.
    A B.A. Survivor's Avatar
    August 2010
    12,512 Posts
    I was secretly hoping for futuristic tumbleweeds that would be programmed to aimlessly wander around in the background of Martian colony gun duels.
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  19. Post #19
    Gold Member
    Jookia's Avatar
    July 2007
    6,768 Posts
    This is actually pretty useful. I was watching the news one day and there was a story about how in the 90s there was a fight between rebels and a government, and one side didn't mark the landmine placement, so now since the war is over, civilians get to have the job of clearing out the place. It'd really help to be able to map them out, is what I'm saying.

  20. Post #20
    And then passer by are maimed by millions of shards of bamboo and shrapnel.
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  21. Post #21
    Gold Member
    Zezibesh's Avatar
    May 2008
    19,061 Posts
    Wish it didn't use plastic, because that's still a lot of non-decomposing shit being flung around and likely never collected. Otherwise a pretty novel idea.
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  22. Post #22
    White Fusion will love him forever and ever~
    Rents's Avatar
    January 2012
    10,936 Posts
    Naa~ nanananananananana katamari-damacy~
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  23. Post #23
    Killerelf12's Avatar
    January 2008
    1,840 Posts
    How the hell is that wind-blown if it weighs 175lbs?
    Large amount of surface area to catch the wind, it's possible. Won't be fast though.

  24. Post #24
    Alright, so I was thinking; this has an iron core to weigh it down a lot.

    What if instead of that, we made a light weight sphere that rolled around, maybe only 10 kilos, not setting off mines.
    Using an oversized hamster ball and some servos. Also inside; a metal detector like mine sweeping soldiers use and a GPS device that uploads the coordinates the ball has been to, and where there are potential mine-threats to smartphones or tablet devices?

    Something like that with a metal detector and a GPS.
    I'm sure it has flaws, but none that I can think of.
    It seems safer to sweep that way, then to send specialists in with metal detectors, and it's more versatile over uneven and grassy terrain then most RC-vehicles, unless they are large and weigh a lot. And to top that, not unreasonably expensive.

    What do you guys think?
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  25. Post #25
    bull3tmagn3t's Avatar
    August 2008
    1,455 Posts
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  26. Post #26

    April 2011
    4,553 Posts
    Alright, so I was thinking; this has an iron core to weigh it down a lot.

    What if instead of that, we made a light weight sphere that rolled around, maybe only 10 kilos, not setting off mines.
    Using an oversized hamster ball and some servos. Also inside; a metal detector like mine sweeping soldiers use and a GPS device that uploads the coordinates the ball has been to, and where there are potential mine-threats to smartphones or tablet devices?

    Something like that with a metal detector and a GPS.
    I'm sure it has flaws, but none that I can think of.
    It seems safer to sweep that way, then to send specialists in with metal detectors, and it's more versatile over uneven and grassy terrain then most RC-vehicles, unless they are large and weigh a lot. And to top that, not unreasonably expensive.

    What do you guys think?
    That but heavier and with a strong out shell to set of mines and hopefully survive.

  27. Post #27
    That but heavier and with a strong out shell to set of mines and hopefully survive.
    No, there's a problem with that;
    It'll probably have an even shorter lifespan if it's made to actually detonate mines, and there's a reason the things in the OP weren't deployed too because
    Also, van der Slik notes, "when the Kafon is rolling, it would activate trip wires (on fragmentation mines)." If the mine explodes into fragments, he says, it causes “bigger problems”, because in subsequent sweeps “every fragment will be detected as a potential mine." In other words, more metal pieces mean more work for the human de-miners who have to prove 98% clearance.

  28. Post #28
    Gold Member
    _Kent_'s Avatar
    June 2009
    2,457 Posts
    Alright, so I was thinking; this has an iron core to weigh it down a lot.

    What if instead of that, we made a light weight sphere that rolled around, maybe only 10 kilos, not setting off mines.
    Using an oversized hamster ball and some servos. Also inside; a metal detector like mine sweeping soldiers use and a GPS device that uploads the coordinates the ball has been to, and where there are potential mine-threats to smartphones or tablet devices?

    Something like that with a metal detector and a GPS.
    I'm sure it has flaws, but none that I can think of.
    It seems safer to sweep that way, then to send specialists in with metal detectors, and it's more versatile over uneven and grassy terrain then most RC-vehicles, unless they are large and weigh a lot. And to top that, not unreasonably expensive.

    What do you guys think?
    I like it, 10 kilos would be enough to set off most landmines however, so that hamster ball had better be either incredibly light of incredibly tough.

  29. Post #29
    I like it, 10 kilos would be enough to set off most landmines however, so that hamster ball had better be either incredibly light of incredibly tough.
    Depending on it's circumference the weight would be spread more, but you're probably right. Though I can't imagine it has to weigh much. 5 kilos divided over a surface area with a diameter of 5-10 centimeters seems like it would work, but alas I am no mine expert.

  30. Post #30
    Gold Member
    Sgt Doom's Avatar
    March 2005
    20,527 Posts
    They should build a sort of huge lawnmower which automatically moves back and forward around a minefield.


    Yes! Perfect. Why don't they make something like that that can automatically go backwards and forwards around an area in programmed patterns, cause that seems it'd be much more effective than a load of randomly-rolling-around single-use devices like the ones pictured in OP.

    10 Million land mines over 200 square miles.. It'd take ages to do with an automated tank, but at least it'd be reusable and keep going. If the tank was moving at just 10 miles an hour you could cover 240 miles a day (It'd need to be continually filled, probably by dragging a pipeline of fuel around rather than being conventionally, manually filled.)

    And if you have to build 10 million of those tumbleweeds to clear the area, think of the cost then, and the amount of debris that is going to be left - and all of the mines that are gonna potentially be blocked by the debris (like if a tumbleweed lands depressing a mine and stops moving, as soon as it is manually moved, it's gonna blow up), and also that a tumbleweed is gonna occasionally roll straight past mines and there's probably going to be a lot of undetonated ones that are 'nearly hit' several times yet missed.
    It's not for clearing minefields; it's for locating them as in a lot of warzones they're left unmarked and unrecorded in contravention of international treaties.
    Alright, so I was thinking; this has an iron core to weigh it down a lot.

    What if instead of that, we made a light weight sphere that rolled around, maybe only 10 kilos, not setting off mines.
    Using an oversized hamster ball and some servos. Also inside; a metal detector like mine sweeping soldiers use and a GPS device that uploads the coordinates the ball has been to, and where there are potential mine-threats to smartphones or tablet devices?

    Something like that with a metal detector and a GPS.
    I'm sure it has flaws, but none that I can think of.
    It seems safer to sweep that way, then to send specialists in with metal detectors, and it's more versatile over uneven and grassy terrain then most RC-vehicles, unless they are large and weigh a lot. And to top that, not unreasonably expensive.

    What do you guys think?
    Quite a few mine types are minimum-metal types. This design is extremely cheap and won't fail to point out minefield areas.

  31. Post #31
    Quite a few mine types are minimum-metal types. This design is extremely cheap and won't fail to point out minefield areas.
    You mean the one in the OP?
    But yes you're right about that, but they still use metal detectors where they can, like where there are mines with a lot of metal, so I figure why not take out the human factor?

  32. Post #32
    Gold Member
    Sgt Doom's Avatar
    March 2005
    20,527 Posts
    You mean the one in the OP?
    But yes you're right about that, but they still use metal detectors where they can, like where there are mines with a lot of metal, so I figure why not take out the human factor?
    Good metal detectors cost quite a lot, it would quickly become unreasonably expensive to use remote ones that can still set off e.g. tripwire mines. A careful human using it won't set them off, and in any case there's always modern versions of the crab flail to clear minefields en-masse.

  33. Post #33

  34. Post #34
    Gold Member
    Greenen72's Avatar
    September 2009
    8,744 Posts
    You mean the one in the OP?
    But yes you're right about that, but they still use metal detectors where they can, like where there are mines with a lot of metal, so I figure why not take out the human factor?
    Because humans don't get stuck in divots

  35. Post #35
    Fuck Bitches, Get Scritches
    Suitcase's Avatar
    April 2005
    1,328 Posts
    $50? I want one for my yard.
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  36. Post #36
    Arctic-Zone's Avatar
    May 2010
    1,086 Posts
    $50? I want one for my yard.
    the only mines you can find in a yard are dog shit, though.

  37. Post #37
    the only mines you can find in a yard are dog shit, though.
    sometimes that's the deadliest form of mine, actually
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  38. Post #38
    Herpetologist
    imptastick's Avatar
    June 2010
    5,181 Posts
    My favorite cost effective mine locator is rats, rats can be trained to find mine and are small enough to not set them off.



    http://www.ted.com/talks/bart_weetje...and_mines.html

    Also does anyone have a link to that story about that guy who dissarms mines in his spare time without advanced technology? I think he has a mine diffusing school/museum now too.
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  39. Post #39
    Gold Member
    dark_console2's Avatar
    September 2009
    1,460 Posts
    At first I was all like 'Oh wow, that's a really nifty land miner clearing device' then I saw the second picture and was like 'wow, that's a giant shrapnel bomb waiting to happen; this is the most retarded thing I've ever seen'

  40. Post #40
    cqbcat's Avatar
    April 2010
    4,046 Posts
    I think it would just be better to have mine clearing specialist methodically clear an area.

    Those tumbleweeds are too random.
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