This Robot Dog Is Patrolling the Ancient Ruins of Pompeii

The robot dog, Spot, from Boston Dynamics, has a new assignment. Taking the form of an archaeologist, the quadruped will be tasked with autonomously making the rounds of the ancient ruins of Pompeii. Spot will inspect the site for safety issues and document structural changes over time. Spot’s work is intended to improve the quality of monitoring of the existing areas and help advance knowledge of the state of progress in areas undergoing recovery or restoration. The robot will use a 3D scanner to track any changes to structures in the city that is known for suffering Mount Vesuvius’ eruption nearly 2,000 years ago. Spot’s experiment is part of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii’s Smart@POMPEI project. The park is making use of technological solutions and collaborations with companies such as Leica Geosystems and Sprint Reply. The experimentation phase also includes the Leica BLK2FLY, a laser scanner that can fly and autonomously conduct 3D scans. Spot has been equipped with the Leica BLKARC and the Spot CAM+ sensor. The director of the Pompeii Archaeological Site, Gabriel Zuchtriegel, praised the advances in robotics but noted it had not found a specific use on archaeological sites due to “the heterogeneity of environmental conditions.” Zuchtriegel highlighted investigating the safety of a series of tunnels as a focus for the robots. He added the safety conditions within the tunnels dug by grave robbers are often “extremely precarious.” Ideally, Spot’s size and agility will enable the robot to scan the tunnels and monitor the structural integrity.

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