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'Bigfoot' stamps out nasty land mines

"Bigfoot" is a land mine disposal system designed to be a safer, faster and more efficient way to clear buried mines.  

By Allard Beutel

(CNN) -- Across Bosnia-Herzegovina, there are an estimated three million land mines left over from the civil war in the early- to mid-1990s. Now a new British device is being deployed to help clear the country of the clandestine killers.

"Bigfoot" is the latest weapon in the war against land mines. Its inventor says the land mine disposal system, built by the Redbus Company, is a safer, faster and more efficient way to clear buried mines.

"Because you have a mine field and you don't know where the mines are, we need to cover every square centimeter of the area, applying a pressure so we set the mines off in the way that they are meant to be set off. That is either applying pressure to them or operating trip wires," said Bob French, creator of Bigfoot.

"And with machines like this we can increase the rate of clearance by one hundred fold of the current methods of the manual stick mine de-mining."

The machine is remote-controlled and can be operated from more than three miles away. It's designed to withstand blasts from anti-personnel and anti-tank mines. But if one of its piston-driven, armored feet is damaged, it can be replaced quickly and cheaply in the field, preventing costly downtime, according to Redbus.

The machine works in tandem with another called "Mineworm," which follows behind Bigfoot, tilling the soil and scooping up metal debris.

Redbus hopes the success of Bigfoot and Mineworm will encourage the use of these machines to help take back land that mines have taken away.

• Redbus

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