STORY: These explosions are part of a demining test in southern Ukraine.
The idea is to turn a run-of-the-mill excavator into a demining powerhouse.
Engineer Vitalii explains:
“The device de-mines thanks to these chains… When it rotates, the impact can be like hitting with 1,000 kilograms (2,205 pounds). Any mine, whether anti-tank or anti-personnel, will detonate. Alternatively, we can mount some kind of knifes on it that plow the soil.”
He declined to provide his last name for security reasons.
A recent Reuters analysis revealed the extent of Ukraine’s mine contamination is likely unprecedented in the 21st century.
There could be hundreds of thousands of land mines scattered across roads, fields and cities.
Volunteers have teamed up with the army to help with the deadly problem.
But modern demining vehicles are rare here.
This machine draws inspiration from World War Two Sherman tanks being outfitted with flails decades ago.
Still, Ukrainian developers believe this excavator can knock out any and all mines in its path.
“We tested the device on anti-infantry mines that detonate with a lot of power and shrapnel,” says military demining expert Volodymyr Ozoryan.
“You can see traces of it on the protective screen,” he adds.
The team isn’t taking any chances, though.
While a remote driver can control the machine with a joystick… developers want to ensure the driver’s cabin can stay safe if an explosion goes off under the excavator’s treads.
And if one day the machine’s services are no longer needed…. it can simply go back to doing what it was originally designed to do.