Pompeii: Under the amused gaze of many tourists, a robot dog wanders the ancient stone alleys of Pompeii's famous archaeological park.
Meet Spot, a friendly, yellow-and-black remote-controlled creature with a gangly gait who looks like a dog crossed with an insect -- all wrapped up in a robot's body.
Spot's current mission at Pompeii is to inspect hard-to-access areas of the sprawling ruins, to collect data and alert his handlers to safety and structural problems.
"Particularly underground structures where safety conditions won't allow (staff) to enter, such as in the park's many very narrow and dangerous tunnels," Pompeii's general director, Gabriel Zuchtriegel, said.
His purvey includes surveying tunnels dug out in clandestine excavations, which Zuchtriegel said "unfortunately still take place in the area".
With its excavated ruins spread out over 44 hectares (109 acres), the archaeological site preserves the remains of the ancient wealthy city south of Naples, buried by ash after the eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.