Small UAVs equipped with advanced instruments open new possibilities for archeological exploration and geography

Drones to help explore cultural heritage

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with innovative ground-penetrating radar will be used by Leicester University archaeologists to explore inaccessible areas.

The project, a partnership between the University of Leicester and Loughborough-based firm Sterling Geo, will see MPhil research student Mark Collins analysing the potential of emerging UAV technology for archaeology and geography.

“My interests particularly lie in researching prehistoric landscapes in order to better understand how people have been using space and creating places over time,” Collins said.

“New technologies and techniques, like the ground-penetrating radar, that can potentially be used to investigate previously inaccessible sites are an exciting development that I’m pleased to be involved with.”

The student will test the technology on multiple locations including a Roman villa, currently being studied by the Leicester University’s Department of Archaeology & Ancient History.

“We see UAVs being used more frequently and in a broader range of applications in the future so there is need for research now,” said Ed Lamb of the University of Leicester’s G-STEP initiative, which helped to put the project together.

“The G-STEP project mission is to assist East Midlands-based SMEs with access to Earth observation data and GIS and the successful start of the project strengthens ties with Sterling Geo and is of great benefit to both the company and university as it links industry with world-class research.”

The work is co-funded by Sterling Geo and the Innovation through the Research Support Accelerator Project, supported by the European Regional Development Fund.

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