The pyramids are ancient masonry structures located outskirts of Cairo in Egypt. Most were built as tombs for the country’s pharaohs and their consorts during the Old and Middle Kingdom periods. It is believed to have been built around 4,500 years ago.
Over the years, various archaeological teams have explored the pyramid, reaching what is known as the Queen’s Chamber. Those archaeological digs found, hidden behind a false wall, a narrow shaft that climbed at a 40-degree angle up into the pyramid.
But those explorations had resulted in damage to the shaft – and no one had explored where the shaft led.
Rob Richardson and his small group of colleagues has decided to design and build a robot that could reach the end of the shaft and find what, if anything, was there. Crucially, it had to survey the shaft without causing any damage to the pyramid.
The lightweight robot had to get into a shaft that is just 20 cm by 20 cm, smaller than a sheet of A4 paper, and manoeuvre along its 60-metre length. The challenge was to survey and film what was inside – and crucially, not cause any damage.
what is inside a pyramid
They developed a system that moved the robot very gently through the passageway. his robot was paid off, the robot able to navigate the shaft and record exclusive footage of the inside.
This design was certainly challenging. The robot had to be extremely lightweight – and in the end, we got it down to 5kg. Because it was so light, it did not require a lot of power – in the end, the challenges started to become opportunities.Professor Richardson, part of the Robotics at Leeds research group.
The story is featured in a documentary film released on the Ancient Architects YouTube channel.