A familiar four-legged friend is keeping watch on Pompeii’s ruins with dogged determination.
A canine robot dubbed “Spot,” built by the robotics company Boston Dynamics, has been deployed among the terracotta ruins, which were buried under ash after Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 CE.
The dextrous creature, recognized worldwide for its inexplicably freaky movements, will collect terrain data with the help of a laser-scanning drone and will also deter tomb robbers by sniffing out illicit underground tunnels.
Spot is just one of a series of technologies introduced by park authorities as part of [email protected], an initiative that aims to make the site a “Smart Archaeological Park.”
Gabriel Zuchtriegel, director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, noted that until now, robots had not found application in archaeological sites “due to the heterogeneity of environmental conditions and the size of the site.” Spot, however, is nimble enough to navigate the ancient city’s uneven streets and narrow passageways.
The [email protected] project comes after a 2013 debacle in which UNESCO discovered structural deficiencies at the site and threatened to remove it from the World Heritage List. Spot and other innovations will be used to guarantee the safety and architectural soundness of the park.
The Pompeii gig is hardly the robot’s first experience with the art world. Earlier this month, the Post spoke to artist Agnieszka Pilat, who made Spot the subject of her “Renaissance 2.0” series. One of the paintings, “Sunrise March,” was sold at auction in San Francisco, raising $40,000 for Ukrainian refugees.
Spot also made headlines this week as part of the FDNY’s high-tech mechanical K-9 unit, which will use the robot in search-and-rescue missions. In a conversation with the Post, a fire department spokesperson admitted there was “a lot of work ahead” before the robots were seamlessly integrated into the FDNY team.
A similar robodog has also been seen patrolling the streets of Shanghai, barking out COVID-19 safety instructions to residents.