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Robotic Dog Designed in Boston Patrols the Ruins of Pompeii to Help Preserve Relics

Pompeii Archaeological Park

The archeological site of Pompeii is employing a pair of robots to help monitor the state of preservation of ancient structures, and to gather information underground where it’s too dangerous or precarious for humans to go.

A robotic pooch built by Boston Dynamics to help archeologists in many ways, SPOT will spend most of the days wandering around Pompeii identifying structural and safety issues.

Pompeii is a delicate site, and in 2013 UNESCO almost placed it under the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger.

Not only are the ruins in need of constant monitoring for various forms of degradation, but over the years it’s also been lousy with graverobbers, or tombaroli who skip the line to visit the site and opt for digging long tunnels underneath Pompeii to unearth artifacts to sell to the global antiquities market.

“Today, thanks to collaboration with high-tech companies and in the wake of these successful experiments, we wish to test the use of these robots in the underground tunnels that were made by illegal excavators and which we are uncovering in the area around Pompeii,” said Pompeii Director General Gabriel Zuchtriegel.

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“Often the safety conditions within the tunnels dug by graverobbers are extremely precarious, as a consequence of which the use of a robot could signify a breakthrough that would allow us to proceed with greater speed and in total safety.”

Pompeii Archaeological Park

SPOT’s eyes in the sky are provided by Leica BLK2FLY, a laser-scanning drone that hovers around producing detailed 3D images of the entire 163-acre site, allowing restoration experts an unparalleled view of all the buildings and strata.

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These images can be used to find new tunnels, potential new excavation sites, and areas of danger where existing structures or ground layers may be at risk.

(WATCH the video for this story below.)

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