For the past month, a lunch-tray-sized aircraft has been skimming over Peruvian ruins snapping high-definition photos which are then stitched together to build a 3D map of the site.
The flyer is the brainchild of Steven Wernke and Julie Adams, archaeologist and roboticist respectively at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. Wernke says that the craft will speed up site mapping drastically compared to traditional methods - a fiddly medley of theodolites, measuring tapes and photography which often requires repeat visits over two or three years during the dry season.
The Vanderbilt team is currently mapping the Peruvian ruins of Mawchu Llacta, an Inca settlement that was mysteriously abandoned in the 19th century. They plan to return next year to work out any kinks that crop up in the lab once they are back in Tennessee.
New Scientist (sub required)