This article makes the common claim that self-replicating robots could be a boon for clearing minefields. In truth, a complex electronic device simply does not last long in the field. When it breaks and you are 3 days from the nearest town, where do you get a spare part or battery? Tools for removing land mines need to be affordable, simple to manufacture and repair in a mined area, and 100 percent accurate under highly variable conditions. What robot meets these criteria?

Andrew Heafitz
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Mass