Project METASHAPE taking shape

Find A Better Way CEO Lou McGrath was in Croatia this week visiting researchers at the University of Zagreb and learning more about their work developing improved landmine detectors for humanitarian use.

The research team, led by Professor Vedran Bilas, is currently finishing the first year of their second Find A Better Way-funded project, known as Project METASHAPE.

Their first project, known as Project PERUN, developed an experimental type of detector that could work in soil types that standard metal detectors struggle with.

Having completed that research-focused project, Vedran and his team launched Project METASHAPE in March 2018 to apply their new discoveries to real-world applications. Instead of developing another experimental detector, they are currently working with commercial detector manufacturer Valon to upgrade detectors currently in use by the demining community.

“Working with Valon has transformed what our research is able to deliver,” explained Vedran. “Instead of having to develop a new detector from scratch, Valon have provided us with a state-of-the-art.

model to work with. It means we can implement advances more quickly, and Valon help us ensure our developments will be useful in the field.”

The goal of Project METASHAPE is to add metal characterisation abilities to standard metal detectors. This will enable deminers not just to detect the presence of metal, but to learn the likelihood any metal found is part of a landmine and even the direction a mine is pointing.

The project will finish its first year in March, at which point the initial development phase should be completed. Year two will concentrate on testing, and year three will focus on incorporating the new software and sensors into a state-of-the-art detector.

“I’ve been very impressed by Vedran and his team,” Lou said of his visit. “It can be too easy to focus on theoretical research for improving landmine detection that ends up not being practical for real-life use. By working with Valon, they are maximising the chance their work will fit into current detector technology and be used by deminers in the field as soon as possible.

“I’ve been very encouraged by my visit to Zagreb and we look forward to seeing the results from year two of Project METASHAPE.”