James Dyson Foundation


Aran Dasan
(Programming, Technical Support)
Richard Snowdonn (Python Scripting)


2013 | SustainRCA - Inspired Products Award

New Scientist
Humans Invent



Project Background
Undetonated landmines and explosive remnants of war are one of the most enduring barriers to development in post-war territories, Costing as little as $30, they are the deadly man-made mechanical soldiers who remain long after war is over, remaining on guard, with the potential to fire indiscriminately at point blank range with devastating consequences.

These hidden life-threatening obstacles stand between civilians and the ability to fulfill their basic needs, condemning some of the poorest communities of the world to poverty, and each year injuring thousands who dare to step within their potentially deadly domain.

Manual mine clearance by trained professionals called 'deminers' remains the most commonly used method of mine clearance and is currently the only guaranteed way of determining whether land offers safe future passage and use. However, the basic tools used by deminers have remained fundamentally unchanged since land mine clearance began in the 1980s. This despite huge financial investment to find mechanical unmanned replacements.


Project Outcome
Blastproof is a collection of simple tools for manual mine clearance that have been developed with a focus on robustness and scalability, The project is based upon insights that were gained through the personal stories of individuals from the UN and the Mine Advisory group who have worked over decades to offer solutions collectively referred to as Mine Action.

Simulation Mines
- At present the first time a deminer or civilian has the opportunity to understand the forces and pressures that result in landmine detonation is when they accidentally trigger a blast.

Without prior tangible experience deminers are being placed at a considerable disadvantage. Simulation mines offer prior tangible understanding of the potential dangers of such devices to be gained through experience. Stakeholders such as the deminers and civilians are thus able to gain an understanding of the pressures and unpredictably of such devices in order to create a more meaningful connection between the dangers of the device and our interaction with them.

Handtools - Current hand-tools used by deminers to probe for and uncover mines are often off-the-shelf tools. Their short handles mean the deminer's limbs and pressure sensitive organs come within close proximity of a possible blast, amplifying its effect on the body.

Whilst such accidents are uncommon, around 100 deminers have been recorded as killed or injured each year since 1999 (less accidents than the UK building trade). These accidents should mostly be preventable, often being attributable to human error and involving 'blast' mines, a type of mine that is harder to detect due to their lack of metal and which injure their victims by a localized high pressure wave of air that can disintegrate flesh (shockwave) and can lead to limb injuries or in some cases death.

The new 'blastproof' tools have been designed to mitigate the effects of the most powerful blast mines, particularly with respect to how the effects of landmine blasts decrease rapidly within the first couple of feet of the detonating device, The tools currently in development are simple but robust, and designed to offer the deminers a high level of control in their work whilst putting distance and a shield between themselves and the hazard.

Systemic Mapping - As part of the project I have mapped what I know as part of a large info-graphic story. I would be interest to hear from anybody that would like to contribute to this or feels it would be relevant to their work.

The project is based upon insights that were gained through the personal stories of individuals who have worked over decades as part of solutions collectively referred to as Mine Action. I have the utmost respect for those working at the Mine Advisory Group and for Andy Smith of nolandmines.com

Twitter link @_blastproof

© 2013 Chris Natt

Blastproof - Humanitarian tools for the ongoing conflict with the mechanical soldiers of war.