Recently I went to visit the Great Pyramid of Khufu and observe the work of the Djedi team. Djedi is a joint international-Egyptian mission, which I named after Djedi, the magician who Khufu consulted when planning the layout of his pyramid. The purpose of this project is to send a robotic tunnel explorer into the two “air shafts” that lead from the Queen’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid of Khufuto gather evidence to determine the purpose of the shafts.
I selected the Djedi team during a competition that I coordinated to pick the best possible robot to explore the shafts in the Great Pyramid. I decided on a team sponsored by Leeds University and supported by Dassault Systemes in France. The team members include:
Dr Ng Tze Chuen (Hong Kong). Independent researcher
· Team founder, working on the concept since 1992
· Developed concept proposal of Djedi robot based on previous experience with space robotics
Mr Shaun Whitehead (UK), Independent researcher, Scoutek
· Founder of the UK involvement in the Djedi project
· Systems engineer and mission manager for the project
Dr Robert Richardson (UK), Lecturer in engineering systems and design, School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds, UK
· Joined Djedi project in 2006
· Manager of Leeds/Manchester Universityteam
Mr Ron Grieve (Canada). Tekron Services, Canada
· World expert in ultrasonic impact-echo measurements.
· Responsible for assessing thickness and condition of the blocking stones
Other key team members include Andrew Pickering, Stephen Rhodes and Adrian Hildred. This international team is experienced in the development and deployment of systems to meet real world challenges, including systems for space, search and rescue and medical devices, as well as inspection of stone structures.
With the help of the Djedi team, we hope to uncover the meaning of these airshafts by drilling through the doors that are blocking them. The team has made to previous examinations of the airshafts in July and December of 2009. The team is hoping to gather as much evidence as possible to try to piece together the purpose of the airshafts, while at the same time ensuring that the Great Pyramid is not damaged in any way.
Shaun Whitehead provided the following details on the instruments that the robot is equipped with:
· Micro “snake camera” that can fit through small spaces and see round corners like an endoscope
· A miniaturised ultrasonic device that can tap on walls and listen to the response to help determine the thickness and condition of the stone
· A miniature ‘beetle’ robot that can fit through a hole 20mm diameter for further exploration in confined spaces
· Precision compass and inclinometer to measure the orientation of the shafts
· A coring drill that can penetrate the second blocking stone (if necessary and feasible) while removing the minimum amount of material necessary
I look forward to sharing more results about the Djedi Project in the future. I believe this project will finally uncover the answers behind the airshafts in the Great Pyramid.