Robot dog named Spot to tackle tomb raiders in ancient Roman ruins of Pompeii

A robot dog named Spot has been sent to explore the ancient Roman city of Pompeii which was destroyed almost 2000 years ago by a volcanic eruption.

Pompeii has been a target for tomb raiders and archaeologists alike for centuries, but now the city is getting so old that much of it can't be safely explored.

Now Boston Dynamics' robot dog is being used to help preserve collapsing structures in the ruined city by monitoring buildings for signs of collapse and reporting back to conservationists.

It will hopefully allow people to continue visiting the ruins of the city, which is home to everything from 'cursed artefacts' to homophobic graffiti and people who were turned to stone.

The Spot robot is a 'quadruped', a four-legged robot that can operate autonomously, carry heavy equipment, and travel across bumpy terrain without falling over. It's designed to perform all sorts of work in heavy industry usually done by humans, from inspection of mine shafts to live dance performances.

Pompeii's director general, Gabriel Zuchtriegel, said that Spot will be used to inspect illegal underground tunnels which have been used by tomb raiders to steal lost treasure from the ruins of Pompeii.

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Zuchtriegel said: “Often the safety conditions within the tunnels dug by grave robbers are extremely precarious, and so the use of a robot could signify a breakthrough that would allow us to proceed with greater speed and in total safety."

The robot dog will be invaluable to authorities, who declared a state of emergency in Pompeii in 2008 because of it falling to bits. A number of the city's key sites collapsed in 2010, so they'll need all the help they can get.

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