Technology

Digitising ancient maps using AI

The team studied a map of Recife, the capital of Pernambuco state, from 1808 to generate modern day images.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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Researchers at University of Pernambuco in Brazil have come up with a new way of transforming ancient maps in to Google satellite images.

Digitisation of maps could inform people of how certain areas have been used and developed over time, including social and economic impacts of urbanisation, the team said in a study titled 'Synthesis of Satellite-Like Urban Images From Historical Maps Using Conditional GAN' published in the IEEE GRSL journal.

The team used an artificial intelligence (AI) tool called Pix2Pix which is based on two neural networks. The first one creates images based on the input set, while the second network decides if the generated image is fake or not. The networks are trained to fool each other, and ultimately create realistic-looking images based on the historical data provided.

The team studied a map of Recife, the capital of Pernambuco state, from 1808 to generate modern day images. The images show how the city has changed in 200 years. The team identified that the city's geography changed drastically - landfills have reduced in size and water bodies and green areas have been removed by human activity.

Also read | AI helps make world’s largest 3D map of the universe

The advantage of using AI this approach is that it requires relatively little input volume. However, the input requires some historical context, and the resolution of the generated images is lower than what the researchers would like, researchers said. The tool can be used in various locations by urban planners, anthropologists and historians.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 10:50:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/digitising-ancient-maps-using-ai/article32908287.ece

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