The European Union is using a fleet of ground robots and microcopters to assess damage that was done to 13th and 15th century churches in the city of Mirandola and in other areas during earthquakes that hit in May and June.
Conditions in the area, just 12 miles from the epicenter of the quake, are quite dangerous, and restrictions for access have been put in place by the military. Two fire fighters have already been killed in the area by a collapsing roof.
Much of the work on the churches was done in late July, the EU said in a statement on Thursday, with robots entering the severely damaged buildings and scanning the areas inside to produce a three-dimensional map along with high-resolution videos.
This was done in order to “report on structural damage to ceilings, arches and aisles in the largely destroyed churches … and on the state of cultural artifacts such as paintings, decorations, tombs and altars,” the EU said.
“The team of robots and people had to work in harsh conditions, with no electricity, using a power generator, and flying the aerial robots in the dust, with almost no visibility, in temperatures of [97 to 104 F]. The ground robots were hindered by piles of rubble,” the statement reads.
Five small helicopter missions were flown inside the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, and there was a mission involving flying over a main aisle that was blocked by rubble at the Duomo cathedral in Mirandola. The ground robot entered the Church of St. Francis two times and carried out several missions in the Duomo.
The ground robot was operated remotely by five people—one person to pilot it, mission specialists, and a person to serve as an in-field observer.
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