dossier

MUD demonstrator detects undersea mines

1 October 2015 • 1 min reading time

Detecting mines and explosives buried deep in the mud – it is made possible by TNO's MUD demonstrator. It helps the Netherlands’ Ministry of Defence and Ministry of the Interior safeguard security in port areas in the face of terrorist threats.

Mine hunters can already find objects underwater or lying on the seabed, but until now, there have been no efficient techniques to detect deeper-lying objects. This is why, commissioned by the Defence Materiel Organisation, TNO built the MUD demonstrator, an advanced sonar system on board a specially constructed vessel. The demonstrator’s hardware was produced by different companies; its software was produced in-house.

Better pictures with pings

The sonar system transmits and receives broadband at low frequencies as per the side-looking sonar principle. This provides great coverage. It is also a synthetic aperture sonar, which means images are constructed by integrating a large number of pings. This provides higher-contrast and sharper images that help the crew to detect and classify suspicious objects. After an area has been scanned and mapped, divers of the Royal Netherlands Navy can excavate and defuse detected objects.

MUD demonstrator test-site

The first demonstrator was made up of borrowed components. When the concept was shown to work, researchers built a second demonstrator to experiment with more often. A trial run in a silty test site in Haringvliet confirmed its improved performance. Since then, tests have been carried out in several port environments. In this way, we can ensure the demonstrator is continuously improved and developed. We’re currently testing a variant for open water and the sea.

Good results BURMIN

For the European project BURMIN, we travelled to Poland to test the sonar system on sandy soil. The results are very promising.

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