Mapping and digitizing archeological sites is an important task to preserve cultural heritage and to make it accessible to the public. Current systems for digitizing sites typically build upon static 3D laser scanning technology that is brought into archeological sites by humans. This is acceptable in general, but prevents the digitization of sites that are inaccessible by humans. In the field of robotics, however, there has recently been a tremendous progress in the development of autonomous robots that can access hazardous areas. ROVINA aims at extending this line of research with respect to reliability, accuracy and autonomy to enable the novel application scenario of autonomously mapping of areas of high archeological value that are hardly accessible.
ROVINA will develop methods for building accurate, textured 3D models of large sites including annotations and semantic information. To construct the detailed model, it will combine innovative techniques to interpret vision and depth data. ROVINA will furthermore develop advanced techniques for the safe navigation in the cultural heritage site. To actively control the robot, ROVINA will provide interfaces with different levels of robot autonomy. Already during the exploration mission, we will visualize relevant environmental aspects to the end-users so that they can appropriately interact and provide direct feedback. Our system will allow experts, virtual tourists and potentially construction companies to carefully inspect otherwise inaccessible historic sites. The International Council on Monuments and Sites will exploit the 3D models and technology. The ROVINA consortium is targeted at developing novel methods that will, besides the indicated goal, also open new perspectives for applications where autonomy and perception matters, such as robotics. To simplify the exploitation, all components developed in this project will be released as open source software as well as under a commercial license.