This underwater drone goes on a treasure hunt

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[EN VIDÉO] The experts of the past: the forgotten treasures of the pond of Le Mans
In the mud of an old pond in Le Mans, in Sarthe, archaeologists have made an extremely rare discovery. Among many worthless remains, they unearthed some jewels from the Gallo-Roman era. But how did this treasure get there? The Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap) provides us with an answer in this new episode of Experts from the Past.

Some sea beds contain large quantities of treasures, including ship wrecks filled with gold. However, they are very difficult to locate several tens of meters under water. In Florida, the company Seafarer Exploration has developed a drone capable of traversing the seabed to detect a variety of metals buried up to ten meters underground.

For the moment, the firm keeps secret the exact method by which the SeaSearcher manages to distinguish the different metals. The device can descend to a depth of up to 100 meters and then moves one meter above the seabed emitting electromagnetic signals, radio and modulated sound. Machine learning algorithms analyze the return of these signals in real time in order to identify the type of object and thus create a 3D map of the seabed. It can be piloted remotely, follow a predetermined trajectory, or simply be pulled by a boat.

Watch the SeaSearcher explore the seabed. © Seafarer Exploration

Highly confidential technology

At such a depth, it is impossible to directly use the GPS to geolocate. The SeaSearcher has a buoy that floats on the surface, attached by a cable. It is equipped with GPS, and allows the data to be transmitted to the support boat. However, this buoy can drift depending on the currents and not end up directly above drone. To compensate, the boat that accompanies the drone is equipped with a submerged platform with a system of sonar developped by the US Navy which exchanges signals with the device.

At present, the drone has not yet found agold orsilverbut the manufacturer indicates that it has managed to identify brassfrom ironfrom copperof the’aluminumfrom lead and of thestainless steel. In order to keep their technology secret, Seafarer Exploration does not intend to sell its drone for the moment, but to rent it as a service.

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