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Video: Tank robot pulverizes land mines, barely blinks at explosions

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This remote-controlled tank annihilates land mines as easily as a horse flicks away flies.

Finding and clearing land mines is an extremely dangerous job -- unless you're the Digger D-3.

The Digger D-3 looks like a cross between an Army tank and a combine harvester, and it detonates land mines and turns vegetation into mulch with equal aplomb.

The jumbo tiller at the front has tungsten hammers that pierce the ground 10 inches deep, turning any obstacle into pulp and remaking tree-filled fields into flat plots of fresh soil.

Its hull is protected from land mines by hardened steel plates, which are arranged in a V shape. This configuration means that detonated land mines disturb the Digger D-3 about as much as flies annoy horses.

At full speed, the D-3 can clear 100% of land mines at a rate of 10,000 square feet per hour -- much faster than a human can, and more safely too, since the human manning the D-3 will be tucked away off-site, directing the action remotely.

Human safety is the goal of the Digger D-3's creators, the Swiss non-governmental organization Digger DTR, which is dedicated to improving the efficiency and decreasing the danger of mine-clearing devices.

Even on the occasions that the tank does get a minor boo-boo, the robot is straightforward for others to repair. It's easy to get access to the inner workings and to weld the armor. The Digger even contains plans that you can follow if you need to build your own spare parts. Digger does all these things so that all communities threatened by land mines can use the Digger D-3.

Check out this video of the indestructible tank's predecessor, the Digger D-2:

via: Popular Science and IEEE Spectrum

Photo: screenshot of Digger D-2

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Laura Shin

Features Editor

Laura Shin has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times, and is currently a contributor at Forbes. Previously, she worked at Newsweek, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and LearnVest. She holds degrees from Stanford University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure