Following our walk in the civilian applications of unmanned aerial vehicles, let’s focus on an unexpected field: archaeology.
Indeed, small drones do provide significant topographic capabilities thanks to various factors, including: Very fast implementation on the ground; accurate flight paths in very small or risky areas; low noise, low cost and safety; reduced impact on the environment; and enhanced flight performance.
These capabilities can make UAVs useful for archaeological investigations. French company ArchéoKopter has even created a software programme named Indiana specifically designed for dig site mapping. UAVs have already drawn the attention of archeologists.
One example is the initiative of Nicolas Poirier, head of research at CNRS and based in Toulouse. Specializing in archeology in the “TRACES” unit Works and Archaeological Research on Cultures, Spaces and Societies, he opted to boost its missions based on an “octocopter” equipped with a thermal camera. Aero-archaeology allows understanding sites through its quick wide overviews.
Aerial photos do not necessarily reveal what lies underground. But a thermal camera reveals temperature discrepancies that help detect the presence of remains or ruins that significantly alters the temperature at the surface. Nicolas Poirier turned to the company Flying Eye, which provided equipment to measure the dig site. It provided also an opportunity to fly over the site Silla Del Papa in Spain, kn