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How these Preston-trained drones are saving lives in Cambodia

Posted on - 22nd August, 2017 - 6:00am | Author - | Posted in - Business, News, UCLan
One of the drones being used to spot mines
One of the drones being used to spot mines

Lecturers from Preston have been training the armed forces of an Asian nation how to detect land mines using drones.

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Cambodia is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world and the battle to disarm them has gone airborne.

Using drones – available to buy on the high street in the UK – the University of Central Lancashire team has been training the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces how to use the aircraft.

With their new flying skills the Cambodians will be able to map out terrain that could potentially contain mines and identify suspicious items or roadside devices – without having to send in troops to investigate.

Practical and classroom training has been undertaken by the UCLan lecturers with the troops during the course of three days.

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They were taught how to conduct safe drone flights, the law on flying drones and understanding the weather implications, as well as practical drone maintenance.

Space and aerospace lead at UCLan Dr Darren Ansell said: “It’s surprising that the use of drones to support mine clearance operations is not more common now that the technology is readily available, particularly in countries like Cambodia which is one of the most heavily mined areas in the world.

“This is certainly one of the very first uses by the RCAF of off-the-shelf high street drones for this type of operation. It’s a simple tool but it will go a long way towards increasing the safety of Cambodia’s armed forces when they’re surveying dangerous spaces or suspicious objects, and will ultimately save lives.”

Mr Dave Severns-Jones – commercial drone pilot working with Furniture for Education Worldwide (FEW), Dr Darren Ansell – aerospace engineering lead, UCLan, Lieutenant General. Ken Sosavoeun deputy general director of NPMEC, Major General Taing Chanponloeu, director department of operation and training of NPMEC, Major General Hout Kimsan, director of school training of multi national peacekeeping forces, Mr Ratana Sem, Cambodian commercial drone pilot, Brigadier General Oung Bura, deputy director of school training of multinational peacekeeping forces
Mr Dave Severns-Jones – commercial drone pilot working with Furniture for Education Worldwide (FEW), Dr Darren Ansell – aerospace engineering lead, UCLan, Lieutenant General. Ken Sosavoeun deputy general director of NPMEC, Major General Taing Chanponloeu, director department of operation and training of NPMEC, Major General Hout Kimsan, director of school training of multi national peacekeeping forces, Mr Ratana Sem, Cambodian commercial drone pilot, Brigadier General Oung Bura, deputy director of school training of multinational peacekeeping forces

Cambodia is littered with land mines following decades of civil war – with somewhere between four to six million land mines unexploded across the country according to the Cambodian Mine Action Centre.

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Lieutenant general of the Cambodian Army Ken Sosavoeun said: “Darren’s team did a fantastic job to train the RCAF on landmine and unexploded ordinance clearance by using drones.

“Mines are still a very large problem, not just in Cambodia, but around the world, and this technology will help us to address this problem while minimising risk to the teams involved. Two drones are already flying regularly to produce maps and conduct air surveillance around the barracks and along roads in the Central Africa Republic as part of a United Nations mission.”

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