Remote Control Metal Detector


Here’s a funny toy: a remote-controlled car with a built-in metal detector. Drive it over a piece of metal and it’ll go BEEP and light up. It doesn’t have anything like serious ground penetration, but still, a cool toy.

There are several reasons that metal detecting has not been made into a mechanised remote sensing technique. I guess the main one is that only archaeologists would have any use for such a machine, and we don’t have the money to make it worthwhile to develop and market it. Also, while building a mechanised detector and find mapper would be easy, it would be considerably more tricky to equip it with a sensitive digging mechanism that could get finds out of the ground and bag them without damaging them.

Thanks to Hans for the tip.

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  1. #1 tceisele
    December 5, 2007

    Well, one market for it other than archaeology would be finding unexploded ordnance. Without, you know, exposing people to the risk of getting blown up. Maybe the manufacturer should branch out a little.

  2. #2 Michael Poole
    December 5, 2007

    Metal detectors were originally invented to find land mines in World War II. They are still used extensively for demining — they are cheap and training is not too hard, although there are many false alarms per unit of area cleared. Most times, neutralizing a land mine also involves digging up a fragile object and transporting it to a safer area for later processing.

  3. #3 Martin R
    December 6, 2007

    … neutralizing a land mine also involves digging up a fragile object and transporting it to a safer area …

    Yes, and that procedure has not been successfully mechanised.

  4. #4 Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD
    December 6, 2007

    I’d want to add a GPS receiver and some software to automate a mapping grid. I don’t think it needs to do the digging itself, got to leave something for the grad students.

    NASA should buy some of these to search for gold on Mars.

  5. #5 Mattias
    December 6, 2007

    Perhaps this could be a way of getting more children hooked on archeology – get ’em young! 🙂

    / Mattias

  6. #6 Thadd
    December 7, 2007

    I know that, at least where I dug in the past, there were so many small metal objects that metal detecting wasn’t really worth it anyway.
    Now if you could motorize a magnetometery set up and just auto-map sites, that would be pretty cool. It would have to be able to go up and down hills and stuff though. So relatively hard.

  7. #7 Martin R
    December 7, 2007

    I’ve done some fieldwork with people from the Swedish National Heritage Board who are developing a motorised magnetometer. You still have to drive the thing, though.

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