PBS NOVA - "Mystery of Easter Island" features drone mapping and computer vision!

Last night the PBS show NOVA featured archaeological research on Easter Island that made use of both drones and computer vision for reconstructing a theory for how the great Moai statues 'walked' from stone quarries to ceremonial grounds.

The scientists used what looked like a Gatewing to collect aerial photos for generating 3D maps of the land surface to find old road beds.  Then they used photos and what looked like Photosynth to generate 3D models of a Moai statue, shown in the image in Meshlab.  From the 3D models, the researchers were able to construct a scale model of a Moai and tested their hypothesis for how early islanders were able to 'walk' the massive statues across over large distances.

A very cool show, but no spoilers here, watch for yourself to see the results of their work.  I was screaming at the TV when I saw the Gatewing and Photosynth being used for such interesting research!

Link to the programs website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/mystery-easter-island.html

Image is a screen capture from about 15 minutes into the program.

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