Drones that can be used to locate UXO (bombs) for removal in Laos, and around the world

Source: kickstarter

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS), commonly called drones, are becoming more and more commonplace in the public eye. How can they be used not only for novelty – but for good? In setting out to answer this question, we found that not only do they have the ability to affect positive change, they also have the chance to save innocent lives.

There are many ways that LiDAR equipped UAS can be used for good. From 1964 to 1973, the United States dropped nearly 2 million tons of explosives on Laos to stop the movement of North Vietnamese troops and munitions (via the Lao National Unexploded Ordnance Programme). These munitions still affect daily life in the region and hamper economic growth. Through the development on an unmanned aerial system that maps UXO in agricultural and forested areas, personnel can survey for ordnance without endangering themselves or the local population.

This campaign will fund Arch Aerial‘s development and prototype testing for a heavy-lift Arch Aerial UXO Drone, that can carry a LiDAR (light detection and ranging) unit on board to map unexploded ordnance (UXO), through identification of the impact signatures in both forested and agricultural areas. These 3D models of the topography can be used by organizations involved in the removal of UXO.

We want to use drones equipped with scanning LASERS to map the changes in topography from the impact of unexploded ordnance in both forested areas and cleared agricultural land.

This fundraiser will allow us to build the ideal platform for UXO survey: a multi-rotor UAS that is designed for 20-30 minute flight times after the attachment of a third-party LiDAR unit for small-scale LiDAR survey in remote areas. For more information on the LiDAR payload, please visit the ‘FAQ’ section of our page.

We are the ideal organization to develop a UXO drone. In addition to building small four-rotor UAS, we also manufacture heavy-lift eight rotor UAS that can carry up to 14 pounds. With a head start on design for the platform, we can focus on implementation and field survey. Our drones have been featured on Popular Science, Yahoo!, ESPN,Tech Cocktail, Al Jazeera, LiveScience, and Futura Sciences. We started building UAS (unmanned aerial systems) for archaeologists, but now we build and operate drones for a wide variety of projects around the world.

This project matters, and we need your help. By building, designing, and testing a UXO locating drone, we’ll be able to equip humanitarian organizations around the world with a much safer alternative to pedestrian survey in mine fields. You are directly contributing to getting hi-tech tools in the hands of humanitarian projects for a real impact.

We plan on not only sharing our story, but the stories of those affected by UXO munitions in remote areas like Laos and Vietnam. We’ll be filming a documentary throughout the entire process, and we intend to use your funding to finance UXO drone development and a small portion of the fundraiser to complete a low-budget documentary chronicling the process.

Risks and challenges

We are working with an aggressive timeline for development and field testing, but that happens to be an environment in which we thrive. While developing our first UAS prototype, we had 6 months to start from scratch and deliver a durable, go-anywhere quad-copter. In those 6 months, we designed, built, and field tested our UAS in Belize and the Mediterranean, and now produce Atlas-1 quads as our top-selling product.

For this project, we’ll use our own existing eight-rotor design and customize the platform for a heavy-lift payload capacity. We will design and test numerous imaging and remote sensing systems for implementation, and then take our work out to one of the toughest environments for UAS operation.

TIMELINE (See above info-graphic)

Once we complete the fundraising portion of our project, we’ll move to the design phase. Design, development, and testing will be conducted from October to December, and we will move to field testing in January and February of 2015. The field testing portion of our development will consist of a month long campaign in Laos to assist local organizations in UXO identification and mapping. Once we’ve collected results from our field testing session in Laos, we will return to our lab in Texas in late-February to perfect the design and begin production on a model that can be used by humanitarian organizations around the world. Delivery on Arch Aerial UXO drones will begin in May of 2015.

In addition to sharing out our story through the documentary, we have also applied to host a SXSW Interactive (March 2015) panel to discuss the UXO drone story and share our experience with humanitarian groups who want to implement cutting edge technology in remote areas. If you would like to see our panel go through, please check out the Kickstarter links on this page to visit our panel page in the SXSW Panel Picker.


We are locating UXO, a dangerous endeavor! Our field testing portion of the timeline will occur in Laos in active mine fields.