The project aims to raise the awareness of the possibilities of using artificial intelligence to study the geomorphology of the terrain and identify underground cavity entrances in an automated way.
For this purpose a conference, mainly targeted at the scientific and caving communities, will be held in Perugia in November 2024 with national and international speakers.

The Italian Alpine Club (CAI) has among its social objectives the knowledge and study of mountains, especially Italian mountains, and the defense of their natural environment. One of the disciplines rooted in CAI is speleology, which deals with the study and conservation of natural and artificial underground cavities. The Perugia Section of CAI hosts a Speleological Group (GSCAIPG), which in 2024 celebrates 90 years of activities, during which it has played a leading role in the development and updating of speleological practices at the national level.

One of the prominent activities in the worldwide caving community is the search and exploration of new cavities with the goal of studying their geological, hydrological, biological-naturalistic, and archaeological aspects. These studies contribute to the populating of a national cadastre of natural cavities that scientists of all disciplines can draw on for their research projects. For example, in the caves of Central Italy studies are being carried out on population biology of bats (Bats Life project), microbiology as an analogue for the study of life on exoplanets (Universities of Bologna and Viterbo together with the GSCAIPG), archaeology (ex. the archaeological findings of Grotta Bella – Avigliano Umbro and Parrano Caves), and hydrology (Monte Cucco cave, GSCAIPG project on groundwater monitoring with Universities of Perugia and Bari and Umbra Acque Spa). The outputs of the aforementioned studies have extremely significant spillovers to the area in terms of economic and environmental benefits, as they increase knowledge of the area, promote rational use of natural resources, stimulate collaboration, both national and international, between scientific and non-scientific entities, and open new possibilities for sustainable tourism.

The activity of searching for cave entrances has historically been carried out only with land surveys, by sight or, more recently, with the use of drones, which, while providing accurate photographic surveys of large portions of the terrain, still require human intervention on site. With the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and their application to more and more scientific fields, there has been a growing international interest in the use of AI in this area as well, and the first scientific publications in renowned sources have appeared.

In November 2023, within the International Gathering of Speleology held in Costacciaro (PG), in front of an audience of cavers from all over Italy and beyond, a panel discussion was hosted in which three speakers (Benjamin Tobin, Leila Character, Margaret Furtner), authors of the first research on the subject, participated remotely from the United States, together with Italian cavers and researchers. The event made it possible to analyze the most recent advances in the field from a scientific point of view and to stimulate interest in the Italian caving community in a technology that is still relatively unknown but has enormous potential.

The continuous and very rapid evolution of the technologies involved makes it desirable and certainly productive to organize a conference on the subject, this time in presence, to allow a continuous and high-level discussion on issues that open up even potentially unexplored scenarios. This tighter and more interactive exchange will be attended not only by the caving community, but also by the scientific community and policy makers, specialized media, and interested economic operators. In fact, in addition to the certain interest of the speleological community, which has already been registered, interest is also expected from scholars in geology, hydrology, biology and natural sciences, archaeology, as well as companies from sectors in which the morphology of the territory plays a fundamental role, also with a view to prevention and resilience of territories.