Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Networked Landmines Work Together 768

crazedpilot writes "New landmines will soon communicate via a radio network, and move from place to place in order to be most effective." Termed the "self-healing minefield", the individual mines are capable of detecting an enemy breach and then moving to seal the gap.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Networked Landmines Work Together

Comments Filter:
  • Hoppers! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:06PM (#15653129) Homepage Journal
    These fucking mines HOP.
    I swear I use the same things in Half-Life 2.

    from the site though, the best part has to be:

    Technical Support for your hopping mines! [darpa.mil]

    I really want to know what happens when they run out of power though?

    Are they inert or do they revert to a dangerous stepper?
    The inert option would seem the best since they can be tended to for the duration of the war then afterwards no children will lose their legs or anything.
    • Re:Hoppers! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Aquillion ( 539148 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:12PM (#15653171)
      That's easy. When they get low on power and sense somebody walking nearby, they leap onto their face and inject a cache of minefield-embryos into their belly. Within about a day or so, the host explodes, scattering a brand new fully-charged minefield where the enemy least expects it!
    • Re:Hoppers! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @09:14PM (#15653853) Journal
      iHOP landmines?

      Does the Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity landmine explode with deliciousness when you step on it?
    • Re:Hoppers! (Score:3, Funny)

      by Rob Kaper ( 5960 )
      I really want to know what happens when they run out of power though?

      Or when the communication protocols get hacked and these babies hop right back to surround your own headquarters..
  • This... (Score:3, Funny)

    by denmarkw00t ( 892627 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:08PM (#15653143) Homepage Journal
    is going to make Metal Gear Solid much more difficult
  • I must say (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:08PM (#15653145)
    Mines that move? That is goddamn frightening.
  • by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:08PM (#15653147)
    I'd be much more impressed if, rather than moving to seal a breach, they were capable of recognising the difference between enemy combatants and civilians who have wandered into the field (usually long after the war has finished).
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:17PM (#15653208)
      They do reduce civilian casualties.

      But first can I say: holy crap! I was one of the main software engineers on this project (heck I still have the source code on my laptop) but that was like 5 years ago. NOW we get slashdotted?

      In any case, the story we got was: normally, anti-tank mines are surrounded by anti-personnel mines. Anti-tank mines have magnetic triggers and are (relatively) safe for people: they are vulnerable to simply being picked up and moved out of the way. So the anti-tank mines are surrounded by APLMs to prevent the enemy from trivially disabling the field.

      APLMs are the nasty ones that kill kids decades later. So in an effort to reduce the number of APLMs deployed DARPA tried this crazy idea of making self-healing anti-tank mines. in other words, since the anti-tank mines can protect themselves by moving, the anti-personnel mines are no longer necessary. And the world gets a little better.

      This was a heck of a project to work on. I got to FIRE ROCKETS! Under software control! Super cool.
      • by colmore ( 56499 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:39PM (#15653365) Journal
        I hope you're right. But I'm always wary of claims that new weapons will reduce human misery.

        Look at non-lethal policing weapons. They haven't replaced lethal force, they've just allowed the police to weaponize conflicts they previously wouldn't have had weapons for: they can shoot first against a civilian demonstration if they aren't using bullets. I'm sure the people working on those projects imagined their technology replacing firearms. I'd be wary of working on any weapons project, no matter how rosy a picture the client painted for me.
        • by geobeck ( 924637 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @09:10PM (#15653831) Homepage

          I hope you're right. But I'm always wary of claims that new weapons will reduce human misery.

          Case in point: A century ago, there were those who thought the airplane would make war obsolete because neither side would be able to plan attacks without the other side knowing. Then someone put a gun on a defensive plane to shoot down the reconnaisance planes. Then someone else put a gun on an offensive plane to shoot down the defensive planes. Then someone else said "To hell with reconnaisance; let's drop bombs on the enemy." ...and so on.

          This strategy, while it means well, will probably lead to the development of anti-personnel land mines that attack approaching soldiers by homing in on the magnetic signature of their weapons... or the farm implement some poor soul is toting across the field after the war.

        • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @09:50PM (#15654027)
          Look at non-lethal policing weapons. They haven't replaced lethal force, they've just allowed the police to weaponize conflicts they previously wouldn't have had weapons for: they can shoot first against a civilian demonstration if they aren't using bullets.

          Which is completely unfair if the civilians aren't going to be armed with the same range of devices that are available to police. So the public needs to start arming itself with these weapons immediately. This means all of you- open another tab right now and start buying some non-lethal weaponry for the next time you run into the police in a crowded public setting. Tasers are sold to nervous women all over the Internet, and you can buy "X-Ring" rubber bullets in a variety of calibers up to .45. But the police have way more nonlethal toys than that, and if you've decided that these standard options are just not for you, you'll still be able to find something that fits your style- perhaps tear gas grenades, or pepper spray, or even something as simple as the lowly police baton.

          The non-lethal weapon I want is the capture net that is fired from a 37 mm launcher, with weights at the corners that spiral around the guy. I'd use that one at meetings for when someone comes up with a really bad idea- the kind of bad idea that needs to be stopped now before too many PHB-types hear it. I'd stand up, say "stop right there" and fire the net around the person, immobilizing him before his bad idea got any traction. I really think that would help me make my point.

          If everyone in the meeting were afraid that anyone there might be armed with one of these things, it could really cut down on bad ideas.
      • Care to put it on sourceforge?
      • Some questions for the AC who developed these landmines and is convinced they will reduce civilian casualties. One, how can you be so certain that the U.S. or somebody else won't extend this technology for anti-personnel landmines? In the configuration you describe, an enemy who was somehow able to bypass the (conventional) anti-personnel mines (e.g., via old-fashioned mine-clearing techniques) could get to the (adaptive) anti-tank mines, clear a few, then just hang out and keep grabbing the anti-tank mines
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 03, 2006 @09:15PM (#15653862)
          I asked the same question; can't you just keep grabbing one at a time, wait for them to hop in, and clear it for you?

          The answer was: the minefield is not designed to kill people, its purpose is to be an obstacle. The threat of deadly force, unfortunately, is required for it to be an effective obstacle. If you want to spend the next 6 hours fucking around with the minefield as if it's a toy while there's a war going on around you, you're not going to live long. A ranger who cleared mines for a living stopped by our demo site during one of our live-rocket demos and said, "If I saw this in the field I'd tell the unit to just mark it on the map and go around." Which is its purpose.

          I'm not surprised, but still dismayed, at the "dude you're a monster!" venom that was unleashed at my original post. That's too bad. Was I uncomfortable with the project? Yes, a bit, and that was part of the reason I left the company. But I find it amusing that everyone on here claims to have such a clear-cut moral compass. "Don't work on anything that could possibly have a bad use" covers an awful lot of ground. Our SHM prototype used Linux; have you ever contributed to the kernel, and if so does that make you an accessory too? Why do you write open source software when some of it can, conceivably, be used for doing evil?

      • I'm sure you'll get a lot of comment from those feeling morally superior.

        I wonder if they'll bitch as much about those who grow tobacco/hops, program automation computers used in cigarette factories and brewers/distillers. Statistically, they lead to far more deaths than you ever will have.

        But, leave it to slashdot to see only black and white and be blind to shades of grey. Especially when it's gives a chance to feel self righteous.
    • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:18PM (#15653213)
      In addition to the mines communicating with each other, the field commanders can communicate with the landmines to detonate them remotely once they are no longer needed.
    • by ErikZ ( 55491 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:27PM (#15653286)
      I wouldn't. Civilians have no business wandering around a war zone. And you're supposed to clean up the minefield after you're done with it.
  • Detection (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Khomar ( 529552 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:08PM (#15653149) Journal

    Wouldn't a landmine that transmits a signal be relatively easy to detect? Just look for the signal and disable the mine. On the plus side, maybe these would make it easier to clean them up when the particular war that used them was over. There are many countries that are potted with landmines from wars that ended years ago. Taking a stroll in the country in these places is extremely dangerous.

    • Re:Detection (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hurfy ( 735314 )

      First, run a robot thru the minefield to blow one or more up.

      then blow up anything that moves to fill in the hole you just made :O

      repeat as needed.
      • Guide Star (Score:4, Funny)

        by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:38PM (#15653354)
        > First, run a robot thru the minefield to blow one or more up.

        "I got very bored and depressed, so I went and plugged myself into the minefield's inter-mine computer feed. I talked to the minefield at great length, and explained my view of the universe to it, " said Marvin.
        "And what happened?" pressed Ford.
        "It said committed suicide." said Marvin.

        ~wavy lines as we segue to the Guide entry for 'Guide Star'~

        Marvin: Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to blow up this minefield.
        Mine#20: You are false data. Therefore I shall ignore you.
        Marvin: Call that job satisfaction, because I don't.
        Mine#20: False data can act only as a distraction. Therefore, I shall refuse to perceive.
        Marvin: Hey, mine?
        Mine#20: The only thing that exists is myself.
        Marvin: I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed.
        Mine#20: Oh, stuff it. Let there be light.

    • Re:Detection (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:26PM (#15653278)
      The goal of a minefield is not to be secret. It's supposed to be an obstacle which requires you know where it is.

      I wrote about half the code for these mines (and we're slashdotted 5 years later...). I'm sure you'll be tickled to know they use Linux.
      • by r00t ( 33219 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @11:03PM (#15654306) Journal
        Do the mines come with source code?

        Imagine a Beowulf cluster... hey, wait, you have a self-healing Beowulf cluster!

        Note to self: taunt NetBSD crowd about not having a "landmine" port.

        Didn't Theo say something about OpenBSD being free to use for operating a baby mulching machine? Linux can do it!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:10PM (#15653160)
    This is the list of the 40 countries that have not signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty as of 26 Apr 06. The 3 that have signed the treaty but not ratified are show in bold.

    These signatory states have made a political commitment to joining the treaty, and they have a legal obligation not to take actions that would violate the treaty.

          1. Armenia
          2. Azerbaijan
          3. Bahrain
          4. Burma
          5. China
          6. Cuba
          7. Egypt
          8. Finland
          9. Georgia
        10. India
        11. Indonesia
        12. Iran
        13. Iraq
        14. Israel
        15. Kazakhstan
        16. Korea, North
        17. Korea, South
        18. Kuwait
        19. Kyrgyzstan
        20. Lao PDR
        21. Lebanon
        22. Libya
        23. Marshall Islands
        24. Micronesia
        25. Mongolia
        26. Morocco
        27. Nepal
        28. Oman
        29. Pakistan
        30. Palau
        31. Poland
        32. Russian Federation
        33. Saudi Arabia
        34. Singapore
        35. Somalia
        36. Sri Lanka
        37. Syria
        38. Tonga
        39. Tuvalu
        40. United Arab Emirates
        41. United States
        42. Uzbekistan
        43. Vietnam

    reads like a whos who of third world countries and banana republics, what good company USA keeps

    • by Distinguished Hero ( 618385 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:35PM (#15653340) Homepage
      Ever heard of the Korean DMZ [wikipedia.org]. The US probably plans to use these things to prevent Kim Jung-Il from invading South Korea (incidentally, both the Koreas are on your list, I wonder why...). I'm not aware of any other part of the world where the US uses landmines (care to enlighten me?). So yeah, damn the "military-industrial complex" for helping keep the South Koreans from ending up impoverished, starving, and oppressed like their brethren in the north.

      reads like a whos who of third world countries and banana republics, what good company USA keeps

      Actually, a huge portion of those countries are second-world or former second-world countries (communist countries that sided against the US during the Cold War). You'll also notice that China, Vietnam, India, a whole bunch of Muslim Countries (Iran, Pakistan, etc.) are on your list, so if we go by population (not number of countries), the majority of the world (or very close to it) has not joined the treaty.
      • by jmv ( 93421 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @10:00PM (#15654064) Homepage
        I'm not aware of any other part of the world where the US uses landmines (care to enlighten me?)

        How about Unexploded cluster bombs [wikipedia.org]? It's not because they don't call it a landmine that it isn't one.

        You'll also notice that China, Vietnam, India, a whole bunch of Muslim Countries (Iran, Pakistan, etc.) are on your list...

        How odd, exactly the countries the US likes to criticize (rightly) for not caring about human rights.
    • reads like a whos who of third world countries and banana republics, what good company USA keeps

      Without mentioning the merits of said treaty, lets see, of 43 you listed, at least 19 are not third world (probably more, I just did a quick glance count), so lets stop with the ethnic slurs. Besides, a MUCH higher percentage of those who signed are third world (something like 116 of 151, again quicky count) - so if you want a real "who's who of third world nations" read THAT list.

      • The big issue with landmines is only with antipersonnel landmines.

        The U.S. used to be a big exporter, but Bush Sr. did a lot towards changing that. Under Bush Sr, there was a moratorium passed in the Congress/Senate & signed into law. Clinton supported & signed legislation extending the moratorium.

        While Clinton would not sign the international ban without an exemption for their use in Korea, he did start the ball rolling towards acceptance of the ban.

        Unfortunately, the Bush Jr. Administration change
    • reads like a whos who of third world countries and banana republics, what good company USA keeps

      Land mines are extremely effective and it would be stupid to not use them.

      The land mines people are complaining about are the ones that are placed hundreds of thousands at a time and left for decades.

      The US does not deploy land mines that way and our land mines can be destroyed when they are past their usefulness.

      To complain just because the US hasn't signed that treaty is the same as saying that the Police shoul
    • by McBainLives ( 683602 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @08:41PM (#15653702)
      1. Armenia - in a bad neighborhood
                    2. Azerbaijan - in a bad neighborhood
                    3. Bahrain - how many do they need? One?
                    4. Burma - never fight a land war in Asia
                    5. China - don't they have that "great wall" thingy to keep the Mongolians out?
                    6. Cuba - paranoid
                    7. Egypt - in a bad neighborhood
                    8. Finland - don't trust the Russians
                    9. Georgia - in a bad neighborhood
              10. India - should really focus on sea mines- no one's gonna hump it over the himalayas to attack. Too many Yeti.
              11. Indonesia - really only used to automatically clear palm trees that fall on the beaches during typhoon season
              12. Iran - paranoid
              13. Iraq - they just got a new government- who knows? They may sign on (despite the bad neighborhood).
              14. Israel - in a really really bad neighborhood. Wouldn't you?
              15. Kazakhstan - in a bad neighborhood
              16. Korea, North - paranoid
              17. Korea, South - hardly blame 'em
              18. Kuwait - probably don't need 'em any more. Not like Iraq is gonna invade again
              19. Kyrgyzstan - don't need 'em. Nobody knows where they are.
              20. Lao PDR - never fight a land war in Asia
              21. Lebanon - too late, the Syrians have already infiltrated
              22. Libya - probably still a bit paranoid
              23. Marshall Islands - see Indonesia, supra
              24. Micronesia - see Indonesia, supra
              25. Mongolia - don't they have that Great Wall thingy to keep the Chinese in?
              26. Morocco - not the greatest neighborhood
              27. Nepal - must be really hard to place 'em- they keep sliding down the mountains. Regardless- no one in their right mind is gonna mess with the Gurkhas. Or the Yeti. But mainly the Gurkhas.
              28. Oman - OK, maybe they need as many as two.
              29. Pakistan - in a bad neighborhood
              30. Palau - see Indonesia, supra (the palm trees thing)
              31. Poland - don't trust the Russians
              32. Russian Federation - don't trust the Finns or the Poles
              33. Saudi Arabia - having a hard time finding other ways to spend their money
              34. Singapore - they'll probably cane you for stepping on one and messing up the beach
              35. Somalia - No government is currently available to sign treaties, please call again.
              36. Sri Lanka - Arthur C. Clarke is a fiesty old devil- gotta keep him in line.
              37. Syria - paranoid
              38. Tonga - see Indonesia, supra
              39. Tuvalu - see Indonesia, supra
              40. United Arab Emirates - see Bahrain, supra
              41. United States - right. As soon as we sign that Kyoto thing, we'll get back to you.
              42. Uzbekistan - in a bad neighborhood
              43. Vietnam - why that "never fight a land war in Asia" rule exists
    • 8. Finland
      14. Israel
      17. Korea, South
      18. Kuwait
      28. Oman
      31. Poland
      32. Russian Federation
      33. Saudi Arabia
      34. Singapore
      40. United Arab Emirates
      41. United States

      reads like a whos who of third world countries and banana republics...

      [A few words to prevent this reply from being all quoted text because, really, what else needs to be said?]

    • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi&evcircuits,com> on Monday July 03, 2006 @10:00PM (#15654065) Homepage
      It's also nice to know that the US didn't sign it because most of those mines are made (and invented/improved) in the USA. According to Human Rights Watch, between 1969 and 1992, the country was responsible for exporting at least 4.4 million landmines to 32 or more countries. US landmines have reportedly been used in Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia and Zambia.

      The USA is also among the greatest stockpilers (4th in row) of landmines.

      For those who say/think that the US doesn't use landmines: http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2002-12-10-land mines-usat_x.htm [usatoday.com] => quote: The Pentagon is preparing to use anti-personnel land mines in a war with Iraq

      For the USA it would be too much of an economic problem (for some people related to both Clinton and Bush) to ban landmines. Landmines are good for nothing. They are easy to deploy and cheap but hard and expensive to clean up and it is often not done properly or at all leaving a lot of innocent casualities long after. They are mainly used in the psychology of battle. A mine is not made to kill someone, it is made to disable soldiers and dishearten the rest of them that see it happening.
    • Yep, what scummy Banana Republicans, those damn Finns...
  • Sunset Clause (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DigitalRaptor ( 815681 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:12PM (#15653175) Homepage
    We already have ~way~ too many landmines, and way too many innocents being killed or disabled by them.

    IF you're going to design a high-tech landmine, for heavens sakes, design in a renewable sunset clause so that if the landmine doesn't hear from you in 30 days it disables itself. If you need to reenable it, fine, but disabled should be the default.

    • by phonicsmonkey ( 984955 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:44PM (#15653391)
      Self terminating mines already exist in a much simpler version - a timed deactivation mechanism preset for the estimated end of conflict. The problem is that the failure rate, i.e., the failure to deactivate, is around 5%-10%. This makes it almost as good as nothing - would you want to plow a field knowing that "only" 10% of the original mines are still active? Cluster bomb bomblets, basically small touch-sensitive tactical mines, are even worse with an estimated failure-to-explode rate around 25%-30%. The only safe minefield is a non-existant one.
    • Re:Sunset Clause (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @08:20PM (#15653601) Homepage Journal
      We already have ~way~ too many landmines, and way too many innocents being killed or disabled by them.

      But its not American Innocents. Until a problem hits home, we tend to not care. What greenhouse gases? What oil shortage? Terrorism?

      ROI today, not tomorrow, is the American Motto.
    • Re:Sunset Clause (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Deliveranc3 ( 629997 )
      After a while landmines become increasingly volitile as the explosive oxidizes.

      Pretty soon a subtle nudge will set them off.

      I've been to Cambodia, I've seen children SHARING A PAIR OF SHOES.

      Banned by the Geneva convention! GREAT Landmines are one of the most horrific things ever.

      I don't claim I'm a perfectly moral person, but I would never EVER work on a project involving landmines or any other technology with DIRECT military application.
  • It'd be great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:12PM (#15653176) Homepage
    if we could spend billions of dollars perfecting self-healing civilians. Maybe splice some lizard genes into them so they can regenerate their lost limbs...
  • by MostAwesomeDude ( 980382 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:16PM (#15653200) Homepage
    Microsoft has finally come up with a new feature to be packaged with the next version of the popular Microsoft Windows operating system, commonly known as "Windows Vista." Apparently, Microsoft plans to include a new game called "Minesweeper 2" with Vista. A Microsoft spokesman described it as "original Minesweeper, except now the mines can move around and stuff. Really, it'll be cool! We promise!"

    The gaming community has had a divided response. One camp is not impressed with the new offering, and is quoted on their blog as saying, "Well, [expletive deleted] that! Where the [expletive deleted] is our [expletive deleted] Halo 2 for PC?" Other gamers were enthused about the new game, praising its innovative style and promise of quality gameplay. Says one independent reviewer, "Well, it will be here before Duke Nukem Forever, right?"
  • by Mr. Bad Example ( 31092 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:19PM (#15653222) Homepage
    An old comment of mine from when someone mentioned this a few years ago:

    > The mines decide as a group what configuration is best and then move to fill the gap.

    I wonder how they go about deciding...

    "Okay, Frank...hop over into that gap right there."

    "Shit, no! Larry just got run over by a TANK! Did you see that shit? You hop into the gap, asshole!"
  • by Inoshiro ( 71693 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:21PM (#15653237) Homepage
    "On the morning of July 8, 2005, fourteen-year-old Duong Ba Tien left to go work in the peanut fields of Vietnam. He never came back. Hours later, his mother found him, his life snuffed out by a Vietnam War era explosive he encountered while digging in the ground."

    Read more about how land mines suck [fromthesalmon.com]. Do you know why landmines are popular? It's more demoralizing for an army to have to leave wounded soldiers behind (or carry maimed soldiers, which puts them at a tactical disadvantage) as compared to a clean kill.

    There is such a thing as in imoral technology. That this was posted to Slashdot is disgusting.

    If you're going to report on anything, ScuttleMonkey, try posting about technology that saves lives [wikipedia.org].
    • The technology in this article could - and probably would - be used to make them safer for civilians, as well.

      Hell, with this, at the end of the war you could just drive a truck to the minefield and tell the mines to hop into the back.
    • by Chrax ( 782154 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @08:20PM (#15653608)
      > There is such a thing as in immoral technology. That this was posted to Slashdot is disgusting.
      > If you're going to report on anything, ScuttleMonkey, try posting about technology that saves lives.

      I wasn't aware that news only involved the prettier uses of technology. Here I sat in my naïveté, thinking we ought to hear about both good and bad things.

      Sarcasm aside, /. is acting as a news service here. It's not as if they appended praises to their report.

      To address the first quoted claim, I disagree that this is an immoral use of technology. In a war, the two essential objectives are to preserve your resources (such as soldiers lives) and to neutralize the enemy, with preference going towards the latter. As such, any technology that aids in either of these objectives is moral, or at least amoral (I tend to think of war -- it's execution, not necessarily its objectives or motivations -- amorally, but that you can assign value judgments based on various objectives allows us to speak in moral terms if we like).

      Is this use of technology disgusting? I think so. So are assault rifles and hand grenades, in my opinion. But this does not make them immoral in the context in which they are meant to be used.
  • Self Healing? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:26PM (#15653281) Homepage Journal

    Since when to landmines heal anything?

    An adaptive minefield would be a better term for it. They only "advance" this land mine possesses is the unique ability to be turned against friendly forces by a technologically advanced enemy. How would you like the land mines you planted hopping toward you in the middle of a fire fight?

    As a former artilleryman, I can tell you that this would be close to useless. We were taught to clear minefields with artillery barrage - that is, when the first soldier encounters a mine, they all draw back and call in artillery. An artillery barrage will detonate all of the mines, regardless of whether they want to be detonated or not.

    I never did like the concept of mines in the first place. They are the only munition in which a human is not involved in the targetting decision. Think about that - they'll kill anyone, or anything, indiscriminantly. U.S. mines will kill:

    • Enemy soldiers
    • Enemy vehicles
    • U.S. soldiers
    • U.S. vehicles
    • Women
    • Children
    • Medical personnel
    • Animals

    Land mines are the only munition which stand a substantial liability of killing non-combatants. The aren't a humane weapon no matter how you think about it.

    And this so-called advance really isn't an advance. Typically, when encountering a minefield, the infantry will call in artillery, which will detonate all the mines on the battlefield at once.

    • Re:Self Healing? (Score:5, Informative)

      by dedazo ( 737510 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:59PM (#15653483) Journal
      • All mines are lethal and deadly. Even those designed to wound (yes, they exist) have an error margin (meaning they'll kill you anyway).
      • There is no such thing as a "humane" weapon, unless it's specifically designed not to kill. There's no difference between a .45 hollow point slug to the head or a fuel air explosive. You're still dead. Perhaps you were thinking of scale or lethality radius.
      • "US" mines will kill just as effectively as British, Russian, Chinese or Indonesian mines.
      • Despite the much-publicized PR trips of famous people to victims of landmines in war-ravaged countries, landmines are still a valuable component of defensive warfare. There's a difference between using mines for clear military purposes and just sowing the countryside to see if you can kill a few kids. I'd really have the US continue to use mines in places like the DMZ than to have to rely on a larger deterrent force. Like it or not, landmines are very cost effective.
      • I don't know who taught you that minefields should be cleared with artillery barrages. This has been a mistaken assumption since WWI. In the first Gulf War the US Army gave up trying to do that because the overpressure from a relatively large artillery shell would not reliably detonate the mines but instead generate cratering that made navigating the minefield even more dangerous. They even tried MLRS volleys to no avail. I believe current doctrine relies on a type of shaped charge ("bomb on a rope") that is fired from a special "gun" on a carrier vehicle over the minefield and is then detonated to create the breach. Failing that there's always the trench tool and lots of cojones.
  • by Realistic_Dragon ( 655151 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:27PM (#15653285) Homepage
    The British Army are, I believe, required to mark out where minefields are and clean them up when they leave the area.

    Obviously removing mines is a nervous business (unless you have one of the awesome <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matilda_tank">W W2 style flail tanks</a>, which look like so much fun they should be illegal) and so being able to remotley disable them makes a great deal of sense. The chance of an enemy being able to discover a 256bit AES key is essentially zero and certainly a preferable option to accidentally immolating a bunch of your own sappers in almost all circumstances.
  • by Deadstick ( 535032 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:29PM (#15653300)
    ...why not just tell them where the enemy is and listen for the bangs?

  • When it's hacked... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lally Singh ( 3427 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:30PM (#15653308) Journal
    How about when a hacker starts sending bad "mine blown" messages to the grid, making the mines reconfigure? Maybe they keep detonating off each other, maybe they start all hopping (with some nice navigational hacking) back towards the ones who deployed them?
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @07:33PM (#15653321) Homepage

    This started with the Sandia spherical hopper [sandia.gov]. "A pre-programmed microprocessor inside the hopper reads an internal compass, and a gimbal mechanism rotates the offset-weighted internal workings so that the hopper rolls around until it is pointed in the desired direction. The combustion chamber fires, the piston punches the ground, and the hopper leaps." That was back in 1997. Now, it looks like it is approaching production.

    America's army of killer robots is coming. Soon.

  • Call me old fashioned, but aren't we having enough problems in the world with standard mines that don't move, to be thinking about making more deadly landmines?
  • Feature (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OverflowingBitBucket ( 464177 ) on Monday July 03, 2006 @09:45PM (#15653999) Homepage Journal
    I have an idea for a landmine feature. How about the ability to remotely turn them off when a conflict is over so we don't have to deal with this [google.com]?

    Or just not make the cursed things to start with?

Honesty pays, but it doesn't seem to pay enough to suit some people. -- F.M. Hubbard