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Intel to Deploy Drones for Great Wall of China Restoration Project

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【Summary】Initially, the restoration project will focus on the Jiankou section of the Great Wall, located roughly 45 miles from Beijing (Huairou District).

Michael Cheng    May 13, 2018 6:15 AM PT
Intel to Deploy Drones for Great Wall of China Restoration Project
author: Michael Cheng   

Intel has successfully taken on several grand, drone-based projects. Its latest demonstration involved the deployment of more than 1,200 drones for an extravagant light show at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Interestingly, the demonstration officially set a new record (under the Guinness World Record) for the most UAVs flown simultaneously during an event. 

At the moment, the tech giant is preparing to take on a much larger and highly critical project. Intel will deploy its quadcopters to help restore parts of the Great Wall of China, using a fleet of Falcon 8+ drones and artificial intelligence.

Performing Aerial Inspections

Initially, the restoration project will focus on the Jiankou section of the Great Wall, located roughly 45 miles from Beijing (Huairou District). UAVs are suitable for inspecting this part of the massive structure, as the area is very inaccessible. Rugged terrain, loose rocks and steep inclines prevent human workers from making a safe approach to the location. Drones equipped with cameras provide a safe alternative, while decreasing time spent on surveying.

This will be the first attempt in restoring this part of the Great Wall.

"The use of the latest technologies, will provide a new perspective of the protection of the Great Wall, and show us the great potential of science and technology in cultural heritage protection," said Li Xiaojie, director of the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation.

The project will be ongoing for the next few months. During this period, Intel will compile high-resolution images of the site. The conversation team will then use the images to create a restoration strategy based on the condition of the structure.

The Jiankou section of the Great Wall was built in 1368 during the Ming Dynasty era and has been relentlessly exposed to natural corrosion and extreme weather.

Industrial Maintenance with Drones

According to Goldman Sachs, businesses and civil governments are forecasted to spend up to $13 billion on drone technology and UAVs by 2020. Such solutions will be used to replace existing services worth roughly $127 billion. The largest consumers (sectors) of drones include agriculture, military and law enforcement, infrastructure and transportation.

Large-scale retail companies, like Amazon and Walmart, are also expected to leverage fleets of UAVs to support deliveries in cities. One of the largest hurdles to overcome for businesses interested in incorporating drone tech with existing workflows is regulation.

When it comes to industrial maintenance, a handful of establishments in the US are pioneering the application of UAVs. Notably, AT&T revealed in 2016 it would utilize drones to streamline maintenance and inspection of communication towers. Energy companies, such as Southern Company, Duke Energy and SunPower, are using drones in a similar manner.

"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," explained Anil Nanduri, vice president and general manager, Intel's drone team.

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