A lifesaving toy

Mine Kafon

When Massoud Hassani was growing up in Qasaba, Kabul, he and his brother would play in the desert with toys they made themselves. They favored wind-powered toys, and would race theirs against those the other kids made. But too often, their toys would roll into a minefield and be lost — still in sight, but utterly unreachable.

Twenty years later, Hassani is still making those toys, this time for a different purpose. Much larger than his originals, made from plunger-like feet attached to bamboo legs, this version is meant to roll around minefields and detonate the mines. Because of the Mine Kafon’s design, a detonation will not destroy the entire device. Instead, it will lose one or two legs and keep rolling, continuing to detonate additional mines until it can roll no more. Hassani believes his design can clear three or four mines in one journey. And when that journey is done? Screw in replacement legs and start over. In the meantime, a GPS in the center of the Mine Kafon has recorded its path, thus charting a clear and safe way through the minefield.

He estimates the cost of materials for one Mine Kafon at €40–50, while the cost of clearing a similar area via traditional methods is around €930. The idea is to create a solution that others can copy, using their own materials or whatever is at hand locally. According to a Wired article on the Mine Kafon,

They’ve deliberately not sought out the help of larger companies or organisations, he says, because “what’s most important is to do it on your own, then it’s possible for everyone — low costs, and low skills.”

Given the tens of millions of mines infesting nations throughout the world, a do-it-yourself method of clearing them — not to mention a brilliant, outside-the-box design idea — is surely the only way it will ever get done.

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About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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3 Responses to A lifesaving toy

  1. xenatuba says:

    Pretty amazing. I love the concept.

  2. Linda Briganti says:

    I hope this idea gets a lot of attention. Another example of what one person with a creative idea can do. Just imagine what it would cost if a govt. agency wanted to do this, millions of dollars, time wasted, and in the end never implemented.

  3. Steve Warner says:

    Brilliant, but it is limited to windy flat environments, so places like Cambodia must find other solutions.

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