We all know that life can be cruel, but few things in this world are crueller than landmines that can indiscriminately maim or kill innocent civilians, young or old, decades after they’ve been planted. If ever you needed proof of human foolishness, you only have to think about the countless hidden landmines still buried in different parts of the world, perhaps long forgotten by the people who planted them, but still as capable as ever of maiming or killing unsuspecting victims.
Sadly, mines continue even today to be very much a real threat. In Afghanistan, it is reported that roughly one million people live within 500 meters (about 1/3 mile) of areas suspected of containing land mines and that more than 40 people each month lose their lives to these concealed but deadly contraptions. The tragic, needless loss of life is truly horrifying to think about. But now, there’s a new device that may make a huge difference in improving the situation. It’s called the Mine Kafun, and don’t let its somewhat futuristic yet simple appearance deceive you — this gadget could be a very effective and inexpensive weapon in mankind’s efforts to rid the world of landmines.
The Mine Kafun, still in its prototype stage, is a creation of Afghanistan-born designer Massoud Hassin. The body is made from biodegradable plastic and bamboo, and it costs just about 40 Euros ($53) each to make. Considering that clearing a single landmine using conventional methods costs more than $10,000, you can see how from a cost point-of-view alone the device holds enormous potential.
The structure and mechanics that make the Mine Kafun work are also impressive. The device moves by wind power and is light enough that it can be moved around naturally by the wind, but has enough weight to detonate any landmines it rolls over. The device can be assembled on site, then left to roll, so the process doesn’t seem too complex. What’s even better is that one Mine Kafun has the potential to destroy 3-4 landmines before it stops rolling, since it only loses one or two of its legs with each mine it sets off. It even contains a GPS chip so that you can track where the device has been and how many landmines have been destroyed in a particular area, providing helpful information on where the safest paths to walk may be.
Hassani says that he got the idea for the device from the hand-made racing toys he used to play with in the desert as a child. Hassani himself lost his father in an attack during the civil war in Afghanistan while still very young. He then escaped the country when he was 14 and eventually settled in the Netherlands after living briefly in Russia and Pakistan.
Naturally, Hassani hopes that his invention raises international awareness on the serious issue of uncleared landmines, and his conviction is clear when he says “Every destroyed land mine means a saved life and every life counts.”
You can see the Mine Kafun in action in this promotional video :
Seeing this object rolling through the sands in a desert like something out of a Sci-Fi movie leaves quite a visual impression, doesn’t it? Not surprisingly, Hassan’s invention and efforts have attracted a significant amount of attention in the media and also at various international design festivals.
To turn this prototype into a working machine, the team is currently raising funding for further development on Kickstarter so that the Mine Kafun can be used in actual minefields. They have apparently already reached their goal of £100,000, but they are still taking pledges from people willing to donate to the cause until January 17th.
To be fair, it seems there are some people out there who have expressed concerns that a simple device like the Mine Kafun that is moved haphazardly by the wind cannot be used to systematically remove landmines and that it can be dangerous to rely on such a device to “clear” an area and deem it safe for people to enter.
But I for one would really like to wish the team behind the Mine Kafun the very best in their efforts to improve their invention, because we certainly need all the help we can get in making the world a safer, more peaceful place.
Original Article by: Kuno Kurosawa
If you’re interested, you can also read a story on the Mine Kafun featured on CNN here.
▼Start the Mine Kafun rolling in a mine-infested area
▼The Mine Kafun sets off a landmine…
▼…and still keeps going!
▼It’s easy enough for children to assemble
▼The designer, Massoud Hassin
▼The kind of toy and games that inspired the Maine Kafun design
[ Read in Japanese ]