Drones and artificial intelligence are now helping to restore the Great Wall of China

Readers of REVITALIZATION have discovered several examples of drones being used to restore landscapes and reforest denuded areas. Now, a new application of this technology–combined with artificial intelligence (AI)—will be restoring built heritage, rather than natural.

On April 25, 2018, Intel Corporation and the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation have created a partnership to protect and restore the Great Wall of China.

Using drones, we are able to inspect multiple aspects of the structure including areas that are quite inaccessible. 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,” says Anil Nanduri, vice president and general manager of Intel’s drone team.

An Intel drone. Photo by: Intel Corporation

The Great Wall’s Jiankou section is among its most famous stretches, as well as its steepest. Located in thick vegetation, the section of the wall, which dates to the third century B.C., has naturally weathered and requires repair. Intel’s AI and Falcon 8+ drone technologies will be used to remotely inspect and map the Jiankou section, which has been difficult for repair teams to reach.

As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Wall has been exposed to weather erosion for thousands of years,” says Li Xiaojie, chairman of the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation. “Some parts are on steep inclines, which pose a great challenge for daily maintenance. Our partnership with Intel has opened new avenues for preservation.

REVITALIZATION publisher Storm Cunningham on the Great Wall with Jim Chaney, then President of the Construction Specifications Institute.

Over the next few months, Intel’s Falcon 8+ drones will capture aerial photography of the walls to obtain high-definition 3-D images, helping teams gauge the Great Wall’s current condition. Intel Artificial Intelligence data capture will create a visual representation of the Great Wall to help efficiently and safely identify sections in need of repair.

This partnership showcases how Intel’s technology breakthroughs can benefit with the restoration of the Great Wall of China,” says Alyson Griffin, Intel’s leader of global brand marketing. “It’s a powerful example of how Intel’s artificial intelligence and drone technology can positively impact the world.

Photo (courtesy of Intel Corporation) shows representatives of Intel Corporation and the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation holding a signing ceremony at the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall on April 25, 2018, to announce a partnership to protect and restore the Great Wall of China.

See China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation website.

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