The Mine Kafon Wind-Powered Deminer is designed to roll across the ground, detonating land mines in the process. In Qasaba, Afghanistan, Hassani’s hometown, leftover mines, remnants of conflicts, often injure or kill civilians. When the deminer blows across a minefield, exploding any ordnance present, it reclaims the space as safe and usable.
At about 155 pounds (or around seventy kilograms), the deminer is approximately the weight of an average human adult. It is constructed modularly: when it detonates a mine, only a few of its 175 bamboo arms are blown off, allowing it to complete multiple detonations before needing repairs. When repairs do become necessary, a GPS chip embedded in the device’s core guides the deminer along a safe path out of the field. Components are made from biodegradable materials, so unsalvaged pieces do not further pollute the environment.
The design was inspired by the wind-powered racing toys that Hassani and others from his hometown built as children. Since first developing the deminer during his studies at Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands, Hassani has continued to pursue efficient solutions to the problem of land mines. He field-tests iterations of the Mine Kafon deminer with the support of the Dutch Ministry of Defense and has released a set of freely accessible instructions for creating your own from discarded materials like tires or oil canisters.
Publication excerpt from MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art, New York (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2019)
As a child in Qasaba, a village between Kabul and Jalalabad in wartorn Afghanistan, Hassani made toys out of whatever materials he could find. Among his favorites were rolling objects powered by the wind, which he raced with other children. Often their toys would be blown into minefields, where they could not be retrieved. Many friends of Hassani’s were injured or killed by landmines, and while in design school in the Netherlands, Hassani remembered them by making those toys all over again—only much bigger, heavier, and stronger, and designed to be intentionally released onto minefields. Easy to transport and assemble onsite, Mine Kafon (kafon means “explosion” in Dari) is designed to roll over land, a GPS chip recording the safe path. If it were to detonate a mine, the object would partly destruct, but its bamboo and biodegradable plastic parts could be salvaged and reassembled into another Mine Kafon, ready for deployment. Once an industrial scale of production is achieved, a Mine Kafon could cost as little as forty dollars to produce, whereas current demining methods and materials can cost as much as a thousand dollars per mine. Hassani has been testing Mine Kafon with the Dutch army.
Gallery label from Applied Design, March 2, 2013–January 31, 2014.