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Friday, October 29, 2010

The End of Swedish Countermine Technologies

According to the Landmine Monitor 2010, a total of 66 states and seven other areas were confirmed or suspected to be mine-affected. At least 1,041 people were killed, 2,855 were injured by landmines.
Credit: Countermine Technologies AB
"From Mined Land to Farmland" was the business idea of the Swedish company Countermine Technologies. October 28, 2010 Swedish Countermine Technologies declared bankruptcy after years of technical problems and economic scandals.
The story started in 1998 with the design concept for the mine-clearing machine based on a forestry machine with double flails and a forward positioned mine clearing device and the establishment of Scandinavian Demining Group 1999. The prototype “Scanjack” was built and sent to Croatia for certification., "yielding excellent results" according to Scanjack history webpage.
In tests conducted by the SWEDEC ( Swedish EOD and Demining Centre) of the three machines 2001 Scanjack was judged to be the best on the market. Scanjack was chosen as the winner based on effectiveness, resistance to detonation and driver safety. Scanjack left behind only 2% undetonated personal mines whereas Hydrema 910 MCV single flail left 9% undetonated or intact mines and Bofors Mine Guzzler with tiller left 30% fully functioning mines. Scanjack AB was primarily engaged in the development and production of equipment for mechanical industrial landmine clearance. Later on the Company was active through eight subsidiaries and had operations in Sweden, the United Kingdom, Croatia, Turkey, Egypt and Libya.Obstacle Removal And Clean Land Equipment (ORACLE) was built by Countermine Technologies and U.S. Caterpillar (CAT ) Inc. using one of Cat's off-the-rack loaders. The cost of remote controlled ORACLE was said to be 1/100 as much as a military system to set up and run. ORACLE is mentioned in Springer Handbook of Robotics 2008, page 1105.
In May 2009 Scanjack AB was acquired by Countermine Technologies AB through a stock purchase agreement. Scanjack AB continued to operate as a subsidiary in the Countermine Group.
Chairman of the Board of Directors and largest investor in Countermine Technologies AB was Mr. Björn Wolrath, the former Managing Director of Skandia (1981-1997), a large Swedish insurance company, Chairman of the Swedish Credit Corporation, and member of the Board of Directors of several industrial corporations. He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences.

Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors was Air Marshall Sir John Walker, former Chief of Defence Intelligence and Deputy Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee at the MoD and until recently Special Adviser to the House of Commons Defence Committee. He is former MoD Director of Forward Policy (RAF). He is also a member of the Board of Directors of several corporations. Sir John is a regular commentator on national television, radio, and press and has lectured on mine-warfare.

A sad story about demining robotics especially for those waiting for land mine cleared farmland.

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