Will a robot dog really guard Pompeii – or is it an elaborate April Fool’s joke?

Website Artnet is reporting that, in the future, the ruins of Pompeii will be placed under close guard using a yellow robot dog.

The robot dog can sniff out the terrain of Pompeii and report back to a drone flying overhead. It can also explore the underground caverns made by tombaroli – tombraiders – who dig deep to find ancient artefacts to traffick to collectors all over the world.

Not surprisingly, this electronic canine guard is called Spot – not Cerberus, which might have been more appropriate for a guardian of the underworld.

Spot on patrol (Image: Archaeological Park of Pompeii)

Director of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, Gabriel Zuchtriegel, said that, despite advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), its application to archaeology had been a recent development “due to the heterogeneity of environmental conditions and the size of the site”.

ArtNet reports that in January, artist in residence at Boston Dynamics, Agnieszka Pilat,  threw the spotlight on Spot in her exhibition “Renaissance 2.0,” in which she reimagines historical paintings “replacing man with machine”. 

Pompeii, where Spot will sniff out tombraiders (Image CCL)

In 2021, New York art collective MSCHF also recruited Spot as a robotic artist that visitors to the gallery could control. Spot sported a paintball gun strapped to him and created paintings on the white walls.

Apparently, that past-time was “not sanctioned” by Boston Dynamics.

You can decide for yourself whether Spot is playing an elaborate April Fool’s hoax at Pompeii by reading Caroline Goldstein’s article on Artnet.com.

Buon viaggio et Aprilis Fatuus (maybe!)

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