Meet Spot, the robotic guard dog now patrolling the ruins of Pompeii. In 2013, Pompeii was declared by UNESCO as being on the verge of being declared unsafe unless Italian authorities spent more money on security and site inspection. Spot the robotic guard dog costed the Italians 75,000 dollars (67,000 euros) but considering what the AI-empowered smart dog can do the price is more than reasonable.
Spot the robotic guard dog following a worker who is guiding a drone at the Pompeii Archaeological Park. ( Pompeii Archaeological Park )
Robotic Guard Dogs Engineered For Many Situations
Pompeii’s smart robotic guard dog has been employed under the [email protected] project which “aspires to an intelligent, sustainable and inclusive management of the Park [and] makes use of an integrated technological solution,” say the park authorities.
Spot’s role is not just limited to guarding the site from intruders, it can also identify structural and safety issues , and inspect underground tunnels dug by relic thieves . He can inspect the smallest nooks and crannies, enter any space, patrol at night when the tourists leave, and provide a live feed for humans situated off-site.
Pompeii Spot was custom equipped with an impressive range of state-of-the-art cameras and sensors. And some of the data collected by Pompeii Spot will be used for planned interventions related to the site’s overall structural maintenance and safety issues.
This is Spot, the robotic guard dog that Boston Dynamics created for site inspections, including archaeological sites like Pompeii. ( Boston Dynamics )
Spot and Innovative Technological Solutions
The purpose of using innovative technological solutions “is precisely to improve both the quality of monitoring of the existing areas, and to further our knowledge of the state of progress of the works in those areas undergoing recovery or restoration, and thereby manage the safety of the site, as well as that of workers,” state the park authorities.
Site director Gabriel Zuchtriegel said, “Technological advances in the world of robotics , in the form of artificial intelligence and so-called autonomous systems, have produced solutions and innovations typically associated with the industrial and manufacturing world, but which until now had not found an application within archaeological sites due to the heterogeneity of environmental conditions, and the size of the site.”
Zuchtriegel added that until Spot came along, no such technology has ever been employed on archaeological sites anywhere, as reported in Forbes. Spot also works in tandem with a Leica BLK2FLY flying laser scanner drone utilized to autonomously conduct 3D scans across the 66 hectares (163 acre) site, which will aid Spot after he identifies potential areas of interest.
Design Boom reports that Spot has been equipped to handle different types of terrain with agility and autonomy, which allows for the automation of routine inspection activities. Most of the data collected by the robotic guard dog is through its Leica BLKARC camera and Boston Dynamic’s Spot CAM+ Sensor. Zuchtriegel added that these custom equipment accessories added to the standard Spot model provide exactly the kind of data the Pompeii park authorities were looking for.
Additionally, the threats that grave robbers create in and around tunnels can be quickly identified by Spot. Interestingly, The Daily Mail reports that Spot can even be employed at rocket launch test sites, helping military personnel complete training scenarios (as the French army already does). Of course, Boston Dynamics’ developers hope to develop a version of Spot that can be used as a home friendly appliance.
View of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius where Spot the robotic guard dog will be inspecting and patrolling. (ElfQrin / CC BY-SA 4.0 )
The Ancient Ruins of Pompeii
The ancient ruins of Pompeii and the various discoveries and mysteries surrounding it have been extensively covered by Ancient Origins . Located near Naples in Italy’s Campania region, the city was buried under 13 to 20 feet (4-6 meters) of volcanic ash and pumice after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The ecosystem created under the layers of ash allowed for a unique degree of preservation.
Today, this popular UNESCO World Heritage Sites receives over 2.5 million visitors annually, on average. Its classic Roman era remains, and architecture are simply stunning. The year before UNESCO’s 2013 Pompeii structural safety warning, the 5-year “Grande Progetto Pompeii” was put into place to stabilize and conserve high risk building in these areas. Most Pompeii funding today used for conservation efforts in the area.
Top image: Spot the robotic guard dog, built by Boston Dynamics, is now working at the Pompeii Archaeological Park as a security guard dog and also as an engineering inspection dog. Source: Pompeii Archaeological Park
By Sahir Pandey