Sep 28, 2022
When Igor Klymenko was 9 years old, Russia invaded Crimea. That's a peninsula in the southeast of his native Ukraine. Shocked by the threat of violence, he researched ways to help. Now, 8 years later, Russia has invaded his homeland once again. But this time, Klymenko has received the Chegg.org Global Student Prize for inventing a drone that detects landmines. The award comes with $100,000 as well.
Advocacy group Human Rights Watch estimates that a third of Ukraine is contaminated with landmines. Soldiers bury the explosives to kill enemies and damage vehicles. It is a broadly denounced tactic. In 1997, over 150 countries signed an agreement not to use landmines. Mines can harm anyone who comes close to them, including innocent people. For that reason, Klymenko set out to create his landmine-detecting drone.
Klymenko’s drone can pinpoint a buried mine’s location within two centimeters. It does so using GPS and a fine-tuned metal detector. The drone then relays the location to the user within moments. That allows expert teams to find and disarm the mines quickly and safely. Klymenko designed and built the drone. He also wrote the code that allows it to communicate with the control systems.
The United Nations estimates that there may be as many as 110 million landmines buried in 60 countries. It also estimates that landmines were responsible for 7,073 deaths in 2020. Most of those were civilians. Klymenko hopes his drone can make the world safer.
“I think it can not only save lives, but also I can inspire students,” Klymenko told Smithsonian Magazine. He believes his drone "can change the world.”
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