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Archaeology Drone

August 20, 2012

An unmanned aerial drone maps archaeological sites in minutes instead of years.



Archaeological reconnaissance.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

An unmanned aerial drone has been flying over Peru lately – not to hunt down military targets, but to map an abandoned 16th century colonial village. The project is a collaboration between two Vanderbilt University researchers: Julie A. Adams and Steven Wernke.

STEVEN WERNKE (Vanderbilt University):

This vehicle will be able to take imagery of an area in about ten to fifteen minutes that would take two or three entire field seasons using traditional methods.

The aircraft, which fits inside a backpack, carries software that allows it to optimize its flight path over a particular site. It takes high-resolution photos that are superior to the best satellite images. After the flight, a computer creates a detailed three-dimensional map from the downloaded images. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

Vanderbilt computer scientist Julie A. Adams and archaeologist Steve Wernke show off their unmanned archaeological drone. (Vanderbilt University)