Unmanned Aircraft Could Revolutionize Archaeological Mapping


The SUAVe system, developed by Vanderbilt and Aurora Flight Sciences, should dramatically reduce the time it takes to map archaeological sites.

Archaeological sites that currently take years to map will be completed in minutes if unmanned aircraft tests under way in Peru go well.

The new system is being developed at Vanderbilt University, comprising an Aurora Flight Sciences unmanned aerial vehicle 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 3-D maps.

The project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Vanderbilt archaeologist Steven Wernke and engineering professor Julie A. Adams. They call it SUAVe, which stands for Semi-autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. The project was partially financed by an Interdisciplinary Discovery Grant from Vanderbilt.

Image courtesy of Anne Rayner, Vanderbilt University.

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