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Proceedings Paper

Visual cues for landmine detection
Author(s): James J. Staszewski; Alan D. Davison; Julia A. Tischuk; David J. Dippel
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Paper Abstract

Can human vision supplement the information that handheld landmine detection equipment provides its operators to increase detection rates and reduce the hazard of the task? Contradictory viewpoints exist regarding the viability of visual detection of landmines. Assuming both positions are credible, this work aims to reconcile them by exploring the visual information produced by landmine burial and how any visible signatures change as a function of time in a natural environment. Its objective is to acquire objective, foundational knowledge on which training could be based and subsequently evaluated. A representative set of demilitarized landmines were buried at a field site with bare soil and vegetated surfaces using doctrinal procedures. High resolution photographs of the ground surface were taken for approximately one month starting in April 2006. Photos taken immediately after burial show clearly visible surface signatures. Their features change with time and weather exposure, but the patterns they define persist, as photos taken a month later show. An analysis exploiting the perceptual sensitivity of expert observers showed signature photos to domain experts with instructions to identify the cues and patterns that defined the signatures. Analysis of experts' verbal descriptions identified a small set of easily communicable cues that characterize signatures and their changes over the duration of observation. Findings suggest that visual detection training is viable and has potential to enhance detection capabilities. The photos and descriptions generated offer materials for designing such training and testing its utility. Plans for investigating the generality of the findings, especially potential limiting conditions, are discussed.

Paper Details

Date Published: 3 May 2007
PDF: 13 pages
Proc. SPIE 6553, Detection and Remediation Technologies for Mines and Minelike Targets XII, 65531H (3 May 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.723479
Show Author Affiliations
James J. Staszewski, Carnegie Mellon Univ. (United States)
Alan D. Davison, Army Research Lab. (United States)
Julia A. Tischuk, Carnegie Mellon Univ. (United States)
David J. Dippel, Carnegie Mellon Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6553:
Detection and Remediation Technologies for Mines and Minelike Targets XII
Russell S. Harmon; J. Thomas Broach; John H. Holloway, Editor(s)

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