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Martin Bell MP launches new machine designed to take on the most impossible mine fields

Originally Published 28 June 1998

Martin Bell MP made a special visit to the University of Warwick on Monday 6th July to launch a new machine designed to take on some of the toughest mine fields in the world and help return those mined areas to agricultural use by the local people.

Called Tempest, the sturdy car-sized machine is designed to take on almost impossibly overgrown mine fields and open them up to precise manual mine clearing by human deminers. Almost all deminning has to be carried out by human beings. This is a slow operation with a flat piece of ground but almost impossible when the passage of time has created jungle conditions on the top of a mined area.

The remote-controlled Tempest machine has been designed especially to smash into these overgrown mine fields and make them available for human deminers. Its advantages are:

  • It is cheap to build (?25,000) and operate (about a quarter of the cost of its nearest competitor)
  • It can be built and serviced from locally available materials in developing countries
  • Its sturdy construction allows it to shrug off some mine explosions
  • When it meets a mine big enough to explode and shut it down its design allows it to be easily and cheaply repaired and sent straight back into the minefield
  • It is smaller than most military vehicles and can thus be used on poor roads, weak bridges and other problem areas

Tempest was constructed only after the research team consulted widely with human deminning teams to find out exactly what sort of machine would benefit their work. The machine, a joint project between the University of Warwick and the Development Technology Workshop Ltd, will this summer travel to Cambodia (and possibly Bosnia) to be tested on real mine fields.

Additional Pictures

Note for editors: Funding and equipment for Tempest has been donated by DFID, the Maurice Laing Memorial foundation, Bomford Turner of Evesham, and Lister Petter Engines of Gloucester.

Film and Photo opportunity: Tempest can be seen smashing its way through the undergrowth of a simulated mine field at the University at 10.30am on Monday 6th July 1998. Press should come to the new Cryfield sports pavilion on the university site at that time and ask for Peter Dunn.

Further information about this press release and other media services at the University of Warwick can be obtained from:

Peter Dunn, Press Officer
University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 7AL
West Midlands
Tel: 024 76 523708