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New lab launched to apply AI tech for demining operations

All News 14:30 November 16, 2021

SEOUL, Nov. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea opened a research laboratory Tuesday to develop a demining solution utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance accuracy of the military's mine clearance operations, the defense ministry said.

The ministries of defense and science established the laboratory at the Army Engineer School in Jangseong, 308 kilometers south of Seoul, as part of their joint project launched in May to develop the demining solution.

The military has been looking into AI-based demining methods, as its conventional tools have limits in locating nonmetal explosives or require high skills to ensure their detection accuracy.

South Korean troops have long engaged in mine clearance operations in border areas strewn with mines, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, to excavate remains of fallen troops and conduct security and other missions.

"The envisioned AI solution will utilize a massive amount of data to accurately locate and determine types of land mines," a defense official said.

This undated photo, provided by the defense ministry on April 24, 2020, shows soldiers detecting mines at Hwasalmeori (arrowhead) Hill in the South Korean border town of Cheorwon next to the Demilitarized Zone bisecting the two Koreas, prior to the start of the excavation of the remains of soldiers killed in action there during the 1950-53 Korean War. This year's excavation work kicked off on April 20. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The lab will allow researchers to collect and process related data, while running simulations to locate hidden hazardous objects.

South Korea has set aside 6.72 billion won (US$5.67 million) for the three-year project to run through 2023. The official said the development of hardware equipment is not included in the program for now.

The military hopes to eventually harness the newly developed solution to recover the remains of troops killed during the Korean War.

South Korea estimates the number of remaining land mines south of the inter-Korean border at 830,000. Residents living near the border were often exposed to stray mines during floods.

Some 6,400 people in South Korea have been killed or injured due to stray mines since the cease-fire, according to the ministry. The country currently plans to completely remove all land mines in rear areas by 2022.


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