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January 2017: The Digger Foundation competing for a 1 million dollars prize

Photo/Fondation Digger

The DOME project of the Digger Foundation has been shortlisted as finalist of the prestigious Robotics Award for Good taking place in Dubai in February 2017, where a 1 million dollars prize will be awarded to the best competitor among 10 international teams.

Mine clearance is a fundamental effort for international organizations like the United Nations, which is considering this threat as first humanitarian priority. The world is now facing new kinds of wars as in Iraq and Syria where cities are the main battle fields, and thus new Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) and Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) clearance challenges arise. These devices hamper reconstruction efforts. The problem is so immense that the United Nations estimate that it will take decades to clear Iraq and Syria of all unexploded devices, from hand grenades to IEDs and hundreds kilograms aerial bombs. Today, mine clearance is mainly done by hand, which is not only extremely dangerous, but also very slow and expensive.

Since 1998, the Digger Foundation has successfully led or supported demining projects in many countries, such as Bosnia, Senegal, Mozambique and, in 2016 and 2017, Angola. In rural areas, its main tool is the DIGGER D-250, a 12-ton armored and remote controlled machine capable of destroying mines buried up to 20 centimeters into the ground. As a Swiss-based, non profit organization specialized in high-technology and robotics equipment dedicated to humanitarian demining, the Foundation will address the new challenge of demining safely in urban areas with the DOME project (Digger Management and Operating Environment).                            

Leveraging almost 20 years of field experience, the DOME project combines robotics, bionic systems and pragmatism to bring an effective, reliable and cost-efficient solution adapted to this new reality of urban mine clearance. It solves two distinct issue, which are on one hand the localization of explosive material under the rubble, and on the other hand, its subsequent destruction. In a first step, mine detection dogs equipped with a mine detection dog harness, called SMART system, are deployed on the area. This harness, featuring a GPS tracker, a camera and a loudspeaker, has been developed in partnership with the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and sponsored by the World Without Mines Foundation. The combination of their smell and the harness will allow the dog’s handler to map precisely the location of explosives. Effective demining will begin with the rubble clearance and the transfer of the dangerous device to an open, secure space, to proceed with its destruction. This second step, during which an explosion can happen at any time, requires mechanical tools quickly available on-site. The DOME solution is to use mass produced construction machines which will be transformed into robots and tele-operated from a safe distance, with the help of cameras, controllers and virtual reality goggles. Thereby, no human lives will be put at risk even in case of a powerful explosion.

The demonstration of the DOME system will take place in Dubai on February 17 February 2017. The winner of the competition will be awarded a 1 million dollars prize.

The wireless video system of the project has been generously provided by our sponsor Amimon.

Presentation Video

Robotics for Good's website

November 2016 : Keys handover of a Caterpillar excavator

Photo/Digger Foundation

The keys of a Caterpillar excavator were officially handed over to the Digger Foundation on November 1st 2016 in Tavannes. After a quick mention of the differences between the Caterpillar Corporation and the Digger Foundation, the Caterpillar’s representative Yves-Alain Tschirren highlighted the common aspect of both companies: to leverage a passion with the aim of producing the best machines of the market for the clients.

Digger’s director Frederic Guerne accepted the keys after having acknowledged his gratitude to the team of Caterpillar which internally organized the donation.

October 2016 : Delivery of a D-250 and training in Angola

Photo/Digger Foundation

Our partner in Angola, the NGO The HALO Trust, took delivery of the new demining machine DIGGER D-250 in September. A staff member of Differ DTR provided a training in October on the mechanical and operational aspects of the machine.

The actual mine clearing of the Huambo province with the D-250 will start in early 2017.

July 2016: Digger and the ministers of the Swiss Federal Council in St-Imier

KEYSTONE/Lukas Lehmann

From left to right: Minister Alain Berset (Federal Department of Home Affairs ), Minister Simonetta Sommaruga (Federal Department of Justice and Police), Minister Doris Leuthard  (Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications), Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann (Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research), Minister Ueli Maurer (Federal Department of Finance), Minister Didier Burkhalter (Federal Department of Foreign Affairs), Minister Guy Parmelin (Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport), Chancellor Walter Thurnherr (Federal Council's Chief of Staff)

The Digger Foundation, represented by its director, Mr. Frederic Guerne, its Chief of production and a civilian volunteer, had the privilege to present itself to the ministers of the Swiss Federal Council (the highest executive authority in the country) during the traditional summer « government's field trip » on July 7th in St-Imier, Bernese Jura.

The federal counsellors could not only discover the 12 ton demining machine D-250 but also have a first glance on the new SMART GPS system produced by Digger on a specially trained demining dog. The ministers all listened attentively to the explications on humanitarian mine clearance given by Mr. Guerne. Luckily, the D-250 was still in Switzerland: had the event taken place a week later, the machine would have been on its way to Angola. 

The Digger Foundation is proud to have been chosen, among other firms, to represent the creativity and dynamism of the region to the Swiss highest authority. 

Discovery Channel documentary

Test of the DIGGER D-250 on anti-tank mines in Sweden.

DIGGER D-250 new catalogue online!

The Digger Foundation is proud to present the brand new catalogue of its D-250!

DIGGER D-250 machine with a state-of-the-art TWIN-PIKES demining tiller from CHF 358'000.- !

A "Swiss Made" product at an affordable cost!

Version française

English version

Vegetation Clearance

Backhoe

Safe remote digging and excavation of heavy and potentially dangerous devices.

More information

Explosion of anti-tank mines

SWEDEC 2008 (ITEP with a DIGGER D-3), Mali 2013, SWEDEC 2014 (ITEP with a DIGGER D-250)