A strange robot that looks like a mixture of dog and insect walks through the ruins of Pompeii, before the surprised gaze of tourists who visit this city in southern Italy destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius twenty centuries ago.
This robot, called Spot and yellow and black in color, has the mission of accessing difficult-to-access areas of the ruins, “especially underground structures where security conditions do not allow employees to enter, such as dangerous and narrow tunnels” Gabriel Zuchtriegel told AFP.
By surveying the ground, Spot can pick up information and alert staff to security or structural issues, such as those that occur when clandestine tunnels are dug, something Zuchtriegel says “unfortunately continues to happen in this area.”
The archaeological site where the ruins are located has an area of 44 hectares, south of Naples, and it contains the town that was buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 BC. c.
Spot, who weighs 70 kilos and is the size of a Golden Retriever, is controlled remotely by a tablet and is better equipped than a person to supervise some areas of the park.
A $70,000 robot
The device was conceived by the American company Boston Dynamics, specialized in robotics, including equipment for military use.
The company page states that Spot can be used in industry, construction, mining and manufacturing, among other sectors, to carry out inspections and collect data.
Spot’s movements are controlled by a tablet operated by Valerio Brunelli, an employee of Leica Geosystem, the company that manages the robot’s exploration missions inside Pompeii.
Brunelli stays a few meters from the robot when it moves, despite the fact that the robot is able to avoid any obstacle, but the operator prefers to stay alert.
“Nobody wants to receive their 70 kilos of weight on one foot,” he says jokingly.
“Spot is an amalgamation of technology that allows a robot to be able to explore complicated places, like this one,” explains Brunelli, citing its ability to record the area it travels in 3D.
But even though the robot has become a mascot for tourists, it is still on trial and the site’s managers have not yet made a decision on whether or not to buy Spot, which is priced at $75,000.
“I am confident that Pompeii is going to buy it, it is a leap into the future for a thousand-year-old site,” says Brunelli.