There are an estimated 100 million land mines in the world. Their ability to kill and maim endures long after the war in which they were used has ended and people are continually blown up every day. Also, the unknown threat of the location of land mines makes it impossible to farm or live in vast swaths of land. In addition to these problems, many of the mines are in nations and communities that cannot afford or have difficulty implementing demining programs.


Symbiobotics has invented a robot named Piper, that autonomously works with animals to map mine fields and can be locally created with 3D printing. The robot also uses arduino and the raspberry pi for its sensors and hardware, which are affordable and open-source, so local communities can receive career-creating technical education while producing robots that can help them certify where it is safe to walk and play and where it is still dangerous.

The technology was inspired by the work of an organization called APOPO that trains rats to sniff for land mines. Rats are ubiquitous and light enough that they do not set off the mines and they do not suffer from diseases that afflict imported dogs that have been traditionally used.


Piper works beside a rat on a leash and feeds it (gives it a treat) when the rat detects a mine while generating a map of the area. Piper’s mapping capability is a crucial component that allows immediate access and benefits to populations directly affected by land mines.