Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Test flight over Peru ruins could revolutionize archaeological mapping

02.08.2012
Archaeological sites that currently take years to map will be completed in minutes if tests underway in Peru of a new system being developed at Vanderbilt University go well.

The Aurora Flight Sciences unmanned aerial vehicle will be integrated into a larger system that combines the flying device that can fit into a backpack with a software system that can discern an optimal flight pattern and transform the resulting data into three-dimensional maps. The project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Vanderbilt archaeologist Steven Wernke and engineering professor Julie A. Adams.


The SUAVe -- for Semi-autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle -- system developed by Vanderbilt and Aurora Flight Services should dramatically reduce the time it takes to map archaeological sites.

Credit: Anne Rayner, Vanderbilt University

They call it SUAVe – for Semi-autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. It was partially financed by an Interdisciplinary Discovery Grant from Vanderbilt.

"It can take two or three years to map one site in two dimensions," Wernke said. "The SUAVe (pronounced SWAH-vey) system should transform how we map large sites that take several seasons to document using traditional methods. It will provide much higher resolution imagery than even the best satellite imagery, and it will produce a detailed three-dimensional model." The SUAVe system is compact and is designed to be easy to use.

"You will unpack it, specify the area that you need it to cover and then launch it," Wernke said. "When it completes capturing the images, it lands and the images are downloaded, matched into a large mosaic, and transformed into a map."

The algorithms developed for the project allow the SUAVe system to specify the flight pattern to compensate for factors such as the wind speed, the angle of the sun and photographic details like image overlap and image resolution, Adams said.

"The only way for this system to be cost-effective is for it to be easy enough to operate that you don't need an engineer on every site," Adams said. "It has to be useable without on-site technical help."

Tests are scheduled from mid-July to mid-August at the abandoned colonial era town of Mawchu Llacta in Peru, and plans call to return next year after any issues that arise are addressed in the lab.

Built in the 1570s at a former Inca settlement and mysteriously abandoned in the 19th century, the village of Mawchu is a 45-minute hike for the team from the nearby village of Tuti. Mawchu Llacta is composed of standing architecture arranged in regular blocks covering about 25 football fields square.

"Archaeology is a spatial discipline," Wernke said. "We depend on accurate documentation of not just what artifacts were used in a given time period, but how they were used in their cultural context. In this sense, SUAVe can provide a fundamental toolset of wide significance in archaeological research."

Wernke hopes that the new technology will allow many archaeological sites to be catalogued very quickly, since many are being wiped away by development and time.

"The SUAVe system should be a way to create a digital archival registry of archaeological sites before it's too late," he said. "It will likely create the far more positive problem of having so much data that it will take some time go through it all properly."

SUAVe could also have other applications, including the tracking of the progress of global warming and as a tool for first responders at disaster sites.

"The device would be an excellent tool for evaluating the site of a major crisis such as Sept. 11 to decide how to deploy lifesaving resources more effectively," Adams said.

This research was partially supported by an NSF CAREER award, NSF #IIS-0643100.

James Patterson | Vanderbilt University
Further information:
http://www.vanderbilt.edu

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Quantum bugs, meet your new swatter
20.08.2018 | Rice University

nachricht Metamolds: Molding a mold
20.08.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum bugs, meet your new swatter

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

A novel synthetic antibody enables conditional “protein knockdown” in vertebrates

20.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Metamolds: Molding a mold

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>