Like a massive stone puzzle, the Great Pyramid has refused to give up all of its secrets. One of the last are two shafts out of the "Queen's Chamber". Purpose? Unknown, even to this day. Robots to the rescue.
In 1992, a robot named Upuat 2 climbed one shaft and discovered limestone doors with corroded brass handles. Later, National Geographic traversed the same shaft with a drilling robot, gained access to the area beyond and discovered another, larger door behind the first.
This door is now the target of a third robot expedition, led by Dr Robert Richardson of the Leeds University of Mechanical Engineering. Since the goal is to be as careful and preserving as possible, the work has been methodical and slow, to the tune of five years running.
"We have no preconceptions," he told the Independent. "We are trying to gain evidence for other people to draw conclusions. There are two shafts. The north shaft is blocked by a limestone door and nothing has penetrated that door. With the south shaft a previous team has measured the thickness of the stone, drilled through it and put a camera through it and found there was another surface. We are going to determine how thick that is and we could drill through it. We are preparing the robot now and expect to send it up before the end of the year."
Unlike the shafts leading out of the King's Chamber, these do not reach the surface of the pyramid. They end somewhere, possibly with a room filled with all manner of secrets and whimsy. We might know for sure by the end of the year, when the little shaft-climbing drillbot is scheduled to begin its ascent into the darkness. [Independent]