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Drones Helping to Save the Great Wall of China

BBC News | 2:32

Drones Helping to Save the Great Wall of China

Peter Smisek

28 November 2018

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THE Great Wall of China is the largest structure in the world, with a main section measuring over 6,259 kilometres (3,889 miles) in length.

Despite its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, only a small number of sections close to large cities like Beijing have been properly maintained and become well known.

Above: Large sections of the Great Wall of China are in a state of disrepair (image courtesy of BBC News).

Other portions of the famous wall, built between 1600 and 1644, are weathering away and have in the past even been used as a source of building materials for surrounding villages.

With large portions of the structure difficult to access, monitoring and maintaining the Great Wall has always been an expensive and time-consuming endeavour.

Above and Below: Drones are being used to monitor and analyse the state of the difficult-to-access structure ( images courtesy of BBC News).

Now, architects and heritage surveyors have started using Intel drones to monitor the structure, allowing them to scan it for weak spots in urgent need of repair.

This significantly improves efficiency, as drones can record high-definition images and create a 3D scan of the wall, enabling weaknesses to be identified faster. 

Above: Drone scanning a section of the Great Wall (image courtesy of BBC News).

Zhao Peng, an architect working to restore the Great Wall, added: "Some sections of the Great Wall are very dangerous." Using drones not only allows for easier access, but puts human surveyors out of a harm's way on potentially dangerous sites. 

Above: Repairs are being carried out using traditional methods, such as using stone from local quarries (image courtesy of BBC News).

However, monitoring and surveying the complex structure only goes so far. The repairs are still being carried out in a traditional manner, including quarrying local stone and using donkeys to carry materials to the site.

For now, drones play a crucial role in providing valuable and accurate data, where previously there would have been none, as well as creating a safe work environment for building conservation specialists. 

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