Iris Kramer

Using deep learning to detect unknown archaeological sites









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Using deep learning to detect unknown archaeological sites

Iris Kramer is the founder of ArchAI, a company that uses deep learning to detect sites of archaeological interest in earth observation data and historic maps. Iris holds a PhD along with a background in archaeology, coding, and machine learning. She founded her company in 2020 after realising that a career as an academic would not achieve her goal of creating a potentially global AI detection system fast enough. 

As Iris explains, construction projects have a big impact on their environment, so it’s a legal requirement to assess potential damages before planning permission is granted. However, archaeology presents an unknown risk. It’s often only considered at the late stage of project design, which can cause time and costs to spiral.

ArchAI combines artificial intelligence, LiDAR, satellite imagery, and historic maps to automatically detect undiscovered archaeology in potential construction sites. This desk-based solution significantly reduces time, cost and risk compared to current methods, as well as helping to preserve historical sites for the future.

Iris proved the value of her new technology by conducting a case study in the Isle of Arran where the AI found 200 new potential sites, of which over 130 were verified as true sites by Historic Environment Scotland experts. This was enough to attract the company’s first paying customers, including the Forestry Commission and the National Trust.

Passionate about developing her leadership skills, Iris says, “I’m honoured to be selected for the Innovate UK Award and look forward to learning from other inspiring women as well as further developing my skills, scaling my business and hiring more staff.”


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