Cash plea for new Bosnia mine-clearing machine

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Scientists behind a low-tech, low-cost landmine clearance device that is as easy to maintain as a motorbike are desperately trying to raise funds to get models to Bosnia in time for the spring.

The Dervish, so named because of its circular detection "dance", was unveiled at Edinburgh University last week. It aims to revolutionise landmine clearance, which was supported by the Princess of Wales in her last major charitable venture.

Stephen Salter, Professor of Engineering Design at Edinburgh University, spent two years working with landmine experts to create the device, part- funded by charity and the Royal Academy of Engineering. "The Dervish has many features which make it suitable for mine clearance around the world," said Professor Salter. "Of most significance is the rate at which it can clear land - around 5sq metres per minute. The Dervish is also basically low tech, allowing it to be repaired easily in the field by anyone who can repair a motorcycle." It can be carried by people on foot, and costs just pounds 7,000 - a fraction of the pounds 250,000 cost of existing mechanical clearance vehicles.

The Dervish is a scaffoldingpyramid on four wheels, with a Honda engine at its apex. Run by remote control, it moves in circles, leaving a pattern similar to that of a child's Spirograph toy.Any blast travels through the structure and into the air.

Richard Dietrich, project manager for the Dervish Mine Clearance charitable company, has written to major funders of clearance schemes, such as the UN, the World Bank and the EU, and the British and US governments.