Here’s How Drones are Taking on the Challenges of Historical Restoration

Credit: Intel Corporation
The world’s great historical landmarks often share an unusual combination of features, in being huge yet incredibly fragile. This makes their restoration highly challenging – and drones are helping with the complex work.
At the 15th-century Halberstadt Cathedral in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, Intel drones are taking restoration to places that humans find hard to reach.
Inspections and damage assessment of the cathedral have been made remarkably more safe, easy and inexpensive through indoor and outdoor missions conducted with the Intel® Falcon™ 8+ drone.
The drone helped to gather data that can assist the next stages of restoration planning, meaning the cathedral and its precious artwork can be well preserved for generations to come.
Sanvada spoke to Anil Nanduri, vice president and general manager within Intel’s New Technology Group, to find out more about the project.
Sanvada: What are the main advantages that drone technology brings to a historical restoration project such as this?
Anil Nanduri: In this specific example, the delicate condition of the cathedral’s sculptures and structures necessitated a new approach to mitigate any possible damage by people ascending to the statues, or using additional ladders or scaffolding to perform initial inspections.
The statues specifically are in a very precarious and damaged condition. The conservators were concerned in getting close to the figures in an effort to prevent further damage to the sculptures, and to the delicate pigment color which is now a detached shell on the stone surface.
The Intel® Falcon 8+ drone carried out the inspections several meters away from the structures to mitigate this risk.  Besides that, advantages include speed/efficiency, ability to get to greater heights, and safety.
Sanvada: Are there some things that have been achieved that simply could not have been without drone use?
Anil Nanduri: I wouldn’t say it would have been impossible.  An alternative may have been somebody riding in a helicopter with a camera taking pictures of the cathedral and to get to heights that maybe ladders or scaffolding would not be sufficient.  This manual way of building ladders, scaffolding, or flying in a helicopter is much more time consuming and not as systematic.  The pre-programmed area of interest and automated flight of the drone ensures that the data capture is systematic and the right images are necessary to create the 3D modeling.
Sanvada: What else can we expect from the three years of this project, and are there other similar historical projects where drones are being or will be used?
Anil Nanduri: We are not announcing any further projects at this time, but you can imagine that the possibilities are endless.  There are so many historical and iconic structures all over Europe that are in stages of conservation and preservation.  Outside of Europe, think structures like the Statue of Liberty, or the pyramids in Egypt, Great Wall of china to name a few.  All of those are structures full of history and important to maintain for our future.
Here at Sanvada, the idea of technological innovation helping to restore the marvels of the past is one we’re particularly fond of, and we look forward to covering more on this innovation as it progresses.