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PORTFOLIO Touching the Depths Archaeology. When it comes to handling ancient pottery, nothing can replace a steady human hand. Or so archaeologists believed before they tested Corsaire 1 “Speedy,” a prototype developped by the LIRMM.* The word’s first submarine robot archaeologist explored the wreck of the Lune, a warship belonging to the fleet of Louis XIV, which sank off the coast of Toulon (southern France) in November 1664. BY NICOLAS BAKER PHOTOS BY T. SÉGUIN/F. OSADA/DRASSM/IMAGES EXPLORATIONS 1. A tether cable links the vessel to the robot, to exchange data and supply power. 2. Archaeologists, 3D imaging and robotics experts, are all part of the Corsaire Concept Project, spearheaded by the DRASSM.** 2 * Laboratoire d’informatique, de robotique et de microélectronique de Montpellier (CNRS / Université de Montpellier). ** Département des recherches archéologiques subaquatiques et sous-marines (French Ministry of Culture). 27 SPRING 2015 N° 37


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