Mine Clearance Project

According to a study by the US Defense Ministry in July 2009, there are still vast areas of Vietnam containing land mines. The same study estimates that 42,000 people have been killed by accidents involving such explosives in the past 35 years. Many of the victims are children; UNICEF estimates that in one district alone, 300 children have been killed by mines, and a further 58 have been blinded or lost limbs \cite{unicef}.

Land mines are not a problem unique to Vietnam. The US State Department estimates that there are some 65 to 70 million unexploded land mines remaining in the ground all over the world, with around one-third of the world's countries containing unexploded mines.

RMIT University is a technology-focused institution which originated in Melbourne in 1887. RMIT International University Vietnam has been in operation since 2001, and is Vietnam's first and only fully foreign-owned university. Courses are delivered at its two campuses in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to a total of around 5,000 students. Students in certain programs are able to spend time studying in both Australia and Vietnam, if they wish, and an increasing number of Australian-based students undertake projects in Vietnam. This means that RMIT is uniquely placed to act as a conduit for technology into Vietnam and as a repository of expertise for training and research.

Aim

The aim of this project is to use robots to detect and, where possible, defuse land mines. Not only does this minimise risks to humans, we believe that robots will eventually be far more effective and efficient than humans for such tasks. The presence of the RMIT campuses in Vietnam means that Vietnam is an obvious first choice of location; once operations are up and running, we will be looking to expand this project into other countries as well.

The RMIT campuses in Vietnam provide an appropriate venue to deliver training courses in the use and deployment of robot technologies for detecting and defusing mines, as well as acting as a maintenance base, if need be. This means that RMIT Vietnam can provide a means of producing a trained population of deployment experts, who can be sent wherever in the world they are needed. Already RMIT Vietnam has students from various countries around the world, including China, France, Germany, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as Vietnam and Australia.