Robot to dig for historic treasures in China

April 9th, 2009 - 2:25 pm ICT by ANI  

Shaan New Delhi, April 9 (ANI): Archaeologists in China are taking the help of a robot specially designed for underground exploration, which is opening up a lost world of historic treasures.

The robot completed a successful trial probe in July last year, when it revealed hidden fresco paintings in a narrow shaft inside a 1,300-year old tomb in Xi’an, China’s ancient capital in the northwestern Shaanxi Province.

The cylinder-shaped robot, 27 centimeters long and 9 centimeters in diameter, is the first robot ever used by Chinese archaeologists to explore ancient tombs, according to Tie Fude, a researcher at the National Museum.

It was the culmination of a two-year project jointly run by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, the National Museum, the Science and Technology University of Hong Kong, and the Harbin Institute of Technology, Tie added.

“The project runs the gamut from tomb excavation, culture relics preservation, to intelligent control,” said Tie.

Equipped with infrared lights and a digital camera, the robot could “see” clearly underground, and with help of a sensor, it could identify gases in the environment, and send back data, including temperature and humidity readings, according to the project’s chief designer of intelligent control systems, Zhu Xiaorui, of the Harbin Institute of Technology.

“Archaeologists can then plan excavations on this data,” said Zhu.

She said that the challenge was not the robotics technology, but its adaptation to archeology.

“We only need to input the approximate size of the tomb entrance, the gradient, and the categories of the gases there, so the robot can work,” said Zhu.

“With the robot, we can get some basic data and thus give out amore tailor-made digging plan,” she added. (ANI)

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