Chapter 58 — Robotics in Hazardous Applications

Bozena 5 remotely-operated robot vehicle

This is an example of several videos available on YouTube showing this Slovak-designed and -constructed machine. It shows the vehicle being used in different test areas with brief glimpses of other mine-resistant vehicles. BOZENA 5 was designed to support mine-clearance teams operating in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina, removing mines left over from the civil war in the 1990s. In the areas affected by mines, one of the biggest challenges is the rapid growth of vegetation during the summer months. Bare ground can be submerged in vegetation over 1 m high after just two or three weeks. Military defensive positions were often set up on uneven ground with steep slopes which were then mined to deter attacks from other parties in the conflict. Mines were also removed from these defensive minefields and re-laid along routes used for smuggling goods and people. The smugglers would be able to charge higher prices because only they knew how to safely move along the routes. The smuggling routes (and their parent organizations) persisted long after the end of the formal conflict, complicating mine-clearance operations. That is why small, remote control vehicles like this proved to be so effective. They were highly manoeuvrable, easily transported, adaptable with different tools and equipment, and could be safely operated. The machine comes with an armored operator cabin and the whole system can be packed and deployed from a 40-foot shipping container weighing 16 tons. The greatest threat to the de-miners was from bounding fragmentation mines which typically had a lethal radius of several hundred meters. These vehicles provided a means to operate safely in areas affected by these mines. One of the major disadvantages of these machines is the destruction of surface vegetation that can lead to rapid erosion, if there is heavy rain in the weeks following mine clearance operations. Sudden heavy downpours are common in summer months. Therefore, they had to be used with considerable discretion and local knowledge.
James P. Trevelyan