Continuing our retro theme today of leapfrogging and design-for-development, we come to Jer's story on the Mine Wolf, which is a great illustration of the principle that in today's Tech Bloom, DIY world, some of the most worldchanging designs sometimes come from the most unexpected sources:
Who invented the new, most promising land-mine-clearing device ever made? The one that the UN's ReliefWeb calls "the first mine clearing machine that deserves this name"? The one that can clear land nearly ten times as fast as the best machines around, and 200 times as fast as people with dogs (the old-fashioned way)? Was it the US military, or any military, for that matter? No. The UN? No. A retired German engineer named Heinz Rath, according to Frankfurter Allgemeine, decided "a landmine isn't much different than a sugar beet" and based his design off of the common tractor.
Some trouble w/ the links... "Mine Wolf" seems empty and the FAZ links only leads to front page...
Here's a good one with technical details.
A few years ago, an other attempt was made to build a cheap mine-clearer, the MV 103 C "Glufs Glufs" Deminer:
When the Strv-103 was decommissioned in the middle 90's, trials were made on behalf of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) to reconvert the old tank into a mine-clearing vehicle. There is a great need for clearing mines throughout the world. It was intended for operating in Afghanistan and Cambodia, but never left Sweden. It is painted white as it is not intented for military combat mine clearing.
The rebuilding included a new Hedemora 1500 hp marine diesel engine. It drives a 2000l/min hydraulic pump that in its turn runs the clearing unit. A Mercedes engine provides electricity and the compressed air necessary to start the big engine.
The roller rotates at high speed to a depth of approximately 50 cm, and usually shreds the mines before they explode. Should an explosion occur, the roller can be replaced.
The vehicle can be driven manually or remote-controlled. Should contact be broken, it automatically stops.
After a few trials it was found out it wobbled too much, could not keep a constant clearing depth, and was stabilised with a couple of truck wheels at the rear. This was not sufficient to meet requirements, and it was subsequentially scrapped.