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Drones and AI Help Save China’s Great Wall


Drones and AI Help Save China’s Great Wall


Drones are now helping restore ancient archaeological monuments. Chinese authorities have deployed drones to reach some of the most vulnerable sections of the ancient Great China wall that is thousands of miles long and more than 2,000 years old. Drones have been very effective in helping reach some of the most vulnerable sections of the ancient wall.

National Geographic recently carried a report about one of the more remote sections of China’s Great Wall nearly 30 percent of which “lies crumbling into ruins” as it is slowly reclaimed by the natural world; deteriorating portions that people have been completely cut off from or that remain too dangerous to traverse. Though it’s often referred to as if it’s a single continuous structure, China’s legendary Great Wall is in reality a series of stone fortifications that crawl across the country’s varying landscape from the Korean border to the Gobi desert.

According to a the BBC video report published last week the use of drones has given the Chinese authorities the ability to map and measure sections of the wall, offering precise data which is already being used to rehabilitate this structure that is widely regarded as one of mankind’s greatest feats of engineering.

Zhao Peng, an architect involved in the restorative efforts for the Great Wall, told the BBC that the effort is far more complicated than merely reinforcing old walls with new stone and concrete. “Some sections of the Great Wall are very dangerous,” Peng told the BBC. “Using drones, we can measure lengths and undulations. It’s such a complex structure,” he added. “We need to study arrow holes, battlements, floor designs and even lime content.”

Data collected by the drones has helped workers build support structures for vulnerable sections of the wall, the BBC report further added. The South China Morning Post ran a report In May which stated that Intel’s Falcon 8+ drones were being used to capture “high-definition three dimensional images” of the Jiankou section of the wall, a badly weathered stretch constructed during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) that sits about 50 miles north of Beijing.

To combat this nearly impossible challenge, Intel partnered with the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation to launch an innovative new approach to its restoration: Artificial intelligence and drones.

Artificial intelligence is enabling the preservation of the Great Wall in ways they never could before. See how these new tools are aiding a restoration project hundreds of years in the making.

The Intel® Falcon™ 8+ drone’s flight performance, reliability, and high-resolution image capture make it the perfect tool for the Great Wall restoration. The drones are able to capture thousands of detailed and highly accurate images of the wall, which can be stitched together to create a 3D model, delivering the Foundation a data-driven plan for the restoration.

Intel® Falcon™ 8+ System

The Intel® Falcon™ 8+ drone is an advanced commercial multi-rotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for professional use across multiple industries. It features a best weight-to-payload ratio and captures detailed aerial data for 3D reconstruction down to millimeter accuracy.

The UAV can be programmed to fly an automated path, capturing photos at predetermined waypoint locations. Its triple redundant autopilot provides remarkable stability, compensating for external factors such as strong winds and offering resistance to electromagnetic fields. This helps ensure high reliability in the field, efficient flights, and precise data with every flight.

Advanced Flight Performance

The Intel® Falcon™ 8+ drone is designed to provide consistent, stable flights in the face of external influences like weak GPS signals and high winds as well as providing resistance to magnetic field disturbances. Lightweight with best weight-to-payload ratio for efficient flights, it allows you to collect incredibly accurate, high-quality, geo-referenced, actionable data, while operating in challenging environments.

Precision Data

With professional payload options the Intel® Falcon™ 8+ drone can provide detailed data for orthography and 3D reconstruction, with millimeter accuracy for ground sample distance (GSD). The unique, patented V-shaped design helps ensure unobstructed data capture and enables a greater than 180 degree view from top to bottom for a range of perspectives, from one camera, in one flight. And for data privacy, the Falcon 8+ system can be configured as a closed system with isolated, on-board data storage that does not transmit data over the public internet.

Best-in-Class Safety

The Intel® Falcon™ 8+ UAV is designed for superior safety with industry-leading electronic and hardware system redundancy. The AscTec* Trinity Control Unit provides three redundant IMUs, for quick and reliable data fusion, which verifies and controls the drone’s position, altitude, and orientation, for better responsiveness and stability during flights. It also features additional redundancies for communications, batteries, rotors, and motors.
Ready to Travel

Rugged for commercial jobs but compact for ultimate mobility, the Intel® Falcon™ 8+ system features high quality industrial design for professional use. Payloads are easily exchangeable in the field, and Intel® Powerpack Batteries are designed for portability on airline flights.

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Cite this article as: Vidi Nene, "Drones and AI Help Save China’s Great Wall," in, November 27, 2018,

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