Meet Pompeii’s new robot watchdog

Lovers of Roman mythology may be disappointed to learn that the dog isn't called Cerberus

Spot, the robot dog. Image: Pompeii Archaeological Park press release
Spot, the robot dog. Image: Pompeii Archaeological Park press release

Robots and heritage are not a common combination, but at the Roman ruins of Pompeii, changes are being made. The dog (known as Spot) is designed by American robotics company Boston Dynamics, and will be given a number of tasks around the archaeological site.

The main purpose of the dog will be to monitor and survey the status of the ruins. At around 30kg and with four indepedent legs, it’s light and agile enough to patrol the ancient buildings. 360° cameras on the robot allow it to monitor the site very methodically. This way, it can gather routine data about the state of the buildings at the park.

Furthermore, the robot dog is useful for inspecting the tunnels created by tomb robbers. Although cultural heritage theft has been greatly reduced in recent years by efforts from Italian authorities, tunnels are still being discovered across the area around Pompeii.

Often the safety conditions within the tunnels dug by grave robbers 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.” declares Gabriel Zuchtriegel, Director General at Pompeii Archaeological Park.

The robotic dog is not the only new piece of technology being introduced at the park. They will also be using a laser-scanning drone as well. The drone will be able to fly itself around the park, performing complex 3D scanning of the park.

This is an innovative use of technology at a heritage site. For the past few years, heritage has been embracing the digital revolution, but rarely in a tangible way. Robots and drones could be the future for surveying and preserving heritage sites, particularly when it is too dangerous for humans to be involved.

Source: The Guardian / Archaeological Park of Pompeii

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