Jiankou Great Wall of China Intel drone Falcon 8+

Drones are flying over the Great Wall of China to help with restoration project

One of the most historic sites in the world is undergoing a restoration project — with the help of drones.

Drones are working to capture more than 10,000 hi-res aerial images that will be stitched together to create a 3D model of the Great Wall of China.

The China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation (CFCHC) is in the midst of restoring one of the Great Wall’s most famous stretches known as the Jiankou section — a section that’s dangerously steep and surrounded by wild terrain.

Jiankou Great Wall of China Intel drone Falcon 8+
(Credit: Intel Corporation)

So rather than do the surveying portion by traditional methods, Intel Falcon 8+ drones are being used to create a model, which provides preservationists with a digital replica of the current state of the wall.  Intel says that the drones enable conservation teams to produce a more effective repair schedule in a matter of days vs. the manual process, which requires a tape measure and visual inspection by people over a monthlong period. 

Intel’s Falcon 8+ drone, which was first introduced in 2016, has a V-shaped design and is designed for inspection and close mapping.

Jiankou Great Wall of China Intel drone Falcon 8+
(Credit: Intel Corporation)

Using drones for surveying has emerged as one of the most common use of commercial drones. In fact, in Europe, surveying is the No. 1 use case for commercial drones, with a whopping 79% of commercial drones used for surveying and cartography, according to a June 2018 study conducted by Drone Industry Insights, a Germany-based market research firm.

Drones for surveying can replace jobs that are otherwise to costly, time-consuming or dangerous to do, such as Intel’s Great Wall of China drone project.

“Surveying and building inspections can thus be performed quickly, easily and cost-effectively, because scaffolding, building climbers and the intensive deployment of personnel on site for days on end are no longer required, unlike in conventional processes,” according to the Drone Industry Insights report. “The density of the data captured is also far greater, while the outlay is lower overall. What’s more, drones can now do all this in a much shorter timeframe.”

Companies beyond Intel are increasingly working to deliver drones intended to assist with surveying or mapping. DroneDeploy offers a software that is intended to easily integrate with DJI products, while Yuneec recently announced an integration with drone mapping software Pix4D, which is actually owned by another drone manufacturer, Parrot. The French drone maker, which makes the Parrot Bebop drone, also sells its own all-in-one drone packagesthat include both the software and their own drones.

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