TechGerman underwater drones aid Ukraine in demining rivers

German underwater drones aid Ukraine in demining rivers

A Ukrainian sapper using the "Sonobot 5" to search for mines in a water reservoir.
A Ukrainian sapper using the "Sonobot 5" to search for mines in a water reservoir.
Images source: © X (formerly Twitter) | Ukrainian Front
8:51 PM EST, November 12, 2023

Due to the ongoing war, Ukraine's landscape is heavily impacted by mines, a threat that will persist for decades even after the war ends. Surprisingly, this menace isn't limited to the land but also pervades rivers and other bodies of water. In this article, we'll highlight how German robots are helping Ukraine confront this pertinent issue.

Both the Russians and the Ukrainians commonly utilize mines as a defensive mechanism and strategy to limit enemy movements. Examples of areas where mines have had a significant impact are Vuhledar and Avdiivka for the Russians, and during the unsuccessful counter-offensive in the Zaporizhia region by the Ukrainians.

Mines can be laid everywhere by multiple means - sappers, robots, drones, rocket artillery with specified cluster ammunition, or special overburden mining vehicles of the ISDM Ziemledielije model. The last method enables the mining of hundreds of square meters within minutes in the pathway of an advancing enemy force or its rear, complicating retreat strategies.

Consequently, mines can inadvertently end up in bodies of water such as rivers or lakes. For instance, in the case of Nova Kakhovka, the explosion of a dam by the Russians led to the accumulation of TM-62 anti-tank mines in the water.

Demining aquatic areas: A task impossible without these robots

It is estimated that around 96,525 square miles of territory reclaimed by Ukraine are mined. Land demining operations often have the support of dedicated machinery. However, underwater demining presents unique challenges, compounded by poor visibility and silt-covered mines. Thus, sonar becomes the most effective detection tool in these scenarios. In such conditions, the Sonobot 5 drones from EvoLogics, a German company, have become indispensable tools for Ukrainian sappers. Ukraine presently has 20 of these drones, with an additional 50 soon to be delivered.

These lightweight robots, weighing fewer than 59.5 lbs, are designed to operate in saltwater conditions. Each unit is equipped with a dedicated sonar to conduct search operations or monitor the state of underwater infrastructure.

Further features of the drone include a comprehensive GPS and INS navigation system, an observation head with a daytime camera, and a communication system that allows it to operate up to 1.55 miles away from the command center using a directional antenna. With a range of over 18.64 miles at a speed of 0.62 mph and a 9-hour operating battery life, these drones are ideally suited to their task.

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