This informal CPD article, ‘How technology is used for UXO detection’, was provided by Brimstone Site Investigation, who are Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) experts dedicated to the safe removal and disposal of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) across the United Kingdom and around the globe.
Technology plays an essential role in the safe detection and removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO) around the world. This article explores just a few of the cutting-edge technologies that are used in the UK to survey areas of land for signatures of UXO, including artificial intelligence, cone penetrometer testing rigs, and state-of-the-art drones.
Aerial Surveillance for Precise Detection
Thanks to UAVs, or drones as they’re also known, we can detect anomalies without having to disturb the ground. UAVs are used as a platform for sensors and detectors, enabling UXO engineers to fly them over extensive areas of land searching for signatures of unexploded ordnance. When used in this way, they are usually equipped with state-of-the-art Lidar and Photogrammetry systems. These technologies enable precise 3D models to be captured, along with detailed terrain mapping and high-resolution imagery.
In addition to Lidar and Photogrammetry, Magnetometry is also used to detect ferrous materials and map magnetic signatures by measuring the variations in the earth’s magnetic field, using fluctuations to map geological features and detect ferrous objects. This capability helps identify potential risks such as buried metal objects or items of UXO.
Drones are an essential tool in UXO detection, enabling large areas to be surveyed in a fraction of the time when compared to traditional surveying methods. It also allows engineers to access challenging or remote locations with ease.
State-of-the-Art Surveying Rigs
When blind ground intrusions are proposed, such as when a development utilises piled foundations, the ground may need to be surveyed before the commencement of drilling. This is when cone penetrometer testing rigs are used.
These rigs are boxlike containers that are mounted on a crawler undercarriage, ideal for traversing challenging terrain which can be common on construction sites. Once they’re in the required surveying position, they use hydraulic pressure to push hardened metal cones into the soil, where they use magnetometry to identify fluctuations caused by ferrous metals.
With the capacity to penetrate depths up to 25 metres beneath the surface, rigs can deliver comprehensive site-wide clearance. Some systems are also triaxial, meaning they can model targets in three dimensions. This allows more than one pile position to be cleared per one survey position.
Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning is starting to play an ever-increasing role in UXO detection. Leveraging data and algorithms, machine learning is empowering UXO companies to enhance the capabilities of surveying equipment. While still in development currently, it is envisioned that it will eventually enable instant analysis of raw data, resulting in actionable information in real-time.
Traditionally, the process of UXO identification has been time-consuming, with data processing taking days or even weeks to complete. This is expected to be radically altered as AI and deep learning is developed further. From a client’s perspective, AI enhanced UXO services will reduce costs while increasing turnaround times!
Ensuring safe UXO risk mitigation
The development of a range of technologies has ensured there is always a safe and effective solution to UXO detection, not just in the UK but around the world. This is vital when every project, site and conflict zone is different. The combination of leading industry technologies with highly experienced explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) personnel is creating a better, safer world for everyone.
We hope you found this article helpful. For more information from Brimstone Site Investigation, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively, you can go to the CPD Industry Hubs for more articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.