It is a legal requirement to assess potential archaeological damages when submitting building planning applications. The standing remains of Stonehenge are one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites, but in reality, most archaeology is hidden underground and it takes around 6 to 12 months to assess it accurately. Throughout this period, more costs are sunk into planning applications, which might eventually be rejected, resulting in significant redesign work or perhaps bringing the entire project to a halt.
Iris’s solution – ArchAI – uses AI to automatically detect archaeological sites via Earth observation data. Providing instant, accurate assessments over large areas at the earliest planning stages, ArchAI is de-risking, and saving time and money for the construction industry while also saving vital historical sites from unnecessary destruction.
The UK archaeological sector is valued at £258 million a year (2019). This is a growing market with several UK government commitments that require archaeology assessments including HS2, reforestations projects that aim to plant 30,000 hectares of trees a year, and the building of 300,000 new homes each year.
Iris is currently focusing on product development and performing trials for early adopters, including the National Trust, and through a partnership with DigVentures and Durham County Council. Over the next 12 to 18 months, she will shift focus towards distributing products to developers across the country, then growing internationally and diversifying ArchAI’s product range.