Tuesday, August 27, 2013
In Peru, home to the spectacular Inca city of Machu Picchu and thousands of ancient ruins, archaeologists are turning to drones to speed up sluggish survey work and protect sites from squatters, builders and miners.
Remote-controlled aircraft were developed for military purposes and are a controversial tool in US anti-terrorism campaigns, but the technology's falling price means it is increasingly used for civilian and commercial projects around the world.
Small drones have been helping a growing number of researchers produce three-dimensional models of Peruvian sites instead of the usual flat maps - and in days and weeks instead of months and years.
Speed is an important ally to archaeologists here. Peru's economy has grown at an average annual clip of 6.5% over the past decade, and development pressures have surpassed looting as the main threat to the country's cultural treasures, according to the government.