Pompeii Hires Robot Dog to Patrol Its Ancient Ruins

| Wed, 04/13/2022 - 05:00
Spot robot dog in Pompeii

Amid ancient mosaics and the remains of patrician villas in Pompeii, a four-legged robot dog moves confidently on the uneven stone paved streets. It is not the set of a science fiction movie - the black-and-yellow robot dog is the new guardian of Pompeii. 

Named Spot, the robot, designed by U.S. firm Boston Dynamics, has been ‘hired’ to patrol the archaeological site in order to identify safety and structural issues. Equipped with a powerful headlamp and a 360° camera placed on its eyes that helps it avoid obstacles, Spot will be able to inspect even the smallest and darkest spaces, including areas that would be risky for humans to access, such as the tunnels dug over the centuries by tomb raiders, now most at risk of collapsing. 

Spot will help gather and record data useful for the study and planning of interventions, according to the Archaeological Park of Pompeii. Its use could significantly speed up inspection and restoration activities.

The robot is assisted by a Leica BLK2FLY flying laser scanner conducting 3d scans of the ruins. 

Spot weighs about 40 kg, can operate for 90 minutes at a time and move independently on a predefined path or be remotely guided. It can carry up to 14 kg of equipment and is capable of moving on any terrain, even the most bumpy, at a speed of 5.7 km/h.

The ancient Roman city of Pompeii, destroyed in 79 C.E. after Mount Vesuvius erupted, is a favorite tourist destination in Italy. In recent years, the collapse of several buildings due to poor maintenance caused an outcry and UNESCO threatened to add Pompeii to its list of world heritage sites in peril. The Great Pompeii Project, approved in 2014 and funded by Italy and the European Union, was instrumental in Pompeii’s resurgence, thanks to improved restoration and on-going conservation works. 

Watch Spot at work in the video below.