The China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation has teamed up with technology company Intel to restore the Great Wall of China. Their secret weapon? Drones.
“Using drones, we are able to inspect multiple aspects of the structure including areas that are quite inaccessible,” Anil Nanduri, vice president and general manager, Intel’s drone team, said in a statement. “We continue to be excited about the future of inspections being automated all the way from drone data capture to data processing, analysis, and insights. We look forward to leveraging our technology to aid in the preservation of more world heritage sites in the future.”
The Great Wall is made of stone, brick, wood, and other raw materials. It was built to protect China from invaders as early as the 7th century B.C. One of the wall’s most famous sections is Jiankou, which dates back to the third century B.C. Over the years, the Jiankou section has worn away and is in need of repair.
This part of the wall is very steep and is surrounded by thick vegetation, making it difficult to access. To aid in the process, Intel is deploying artificial intelligence (AI) and Falcon 8+ drone technologies to remotely inspect and map the area.
“As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Wall has been exposed to weather erosion for thousands of years,” explained Li Xiaojie, China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation chairman. “Some parts are on steep inclines, which pose a great challenge for daily maintenance. Our partnership with Intel has opened new avenues for preservation.”
The drones will be used over the next few months to take aerial photographs of the area and produce high-definition, 3-D images. This will allow the teams to thoroughly examine the wall’s condition. Intel AI data capture will produce a visual representation of the fortification that will show which sections are most damaged.
“It’s a powerful example of how Intel’s artificial intelligence and drone technology can positively impact the world,” noted Alyson Griffin, Intel’s leader of global brand marketing.
The Great Wall of China is officially 21,196.18 kilometers (13,170.7 miles) long. It has not been worked on since the downfall of the Ming Dynasty in 1644, but it has been restored over the years for tourism.