Robotics
The Artificial Insect Eye That Will Give Sight To Tiny Drones

Humans see the world through a pair of eyes which possess single lens that allow us to adjust focus and pinpoint minute details.But different is the case with small creatures like insects,as they depend on compound eyes that have low resolution but at the same time provide them with wider distortion-free field-of-view.

These creatures often inspire scientists to invent their artificial counterparts which lead to the growth of bio-robotics field.With the increase in the inventions of various bio-robots,efforts for developing artificial compound eyes for robot insects has also increased.

Compound eyes provide thin package, negligible distortion and are very much useful for motion detection in tasks such as collision avoidance, distance estimation, and landing.Until now,all the efforts to develop artificial compound eyes did not include fast motion detection and lagged behind in imitating the real eye of the insect.

130521105402Though,recreating something from Mother Nature is a big challenge in every way,a research project named “novel curved artificial compound eye (CurvACE)” by a team of scientists from different Universities claims that it has created a prototype artificial compound eye that is very close to the real one in all the features.

The artificial eye is composed of three layers which includes an array of micro-lenses arranged on the top of photo-detectors.CurvACE assures to provide drones with an incredibly brilliant vision that will allow them to navigate and escape from obstacles even in the dark.

The CurvACE features a panoramic, hemispherical field of view with a resolution identical to that of the fruitfly in less than 1 mm thickness and can extract images 3 times faster than fruitfly.It contains neuromorphic photo-receptors that allows motion perception in different environments.

Due to its embedded and programmable vision processing,it enables customizable integration in a broad range of applications where motion detection is the key.Such applications include mobile robots and micro air vehicles, home automation,medical instruments etc.

The CurACE project is funded by the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) programme and is expected to be developed further.

As of now,this artificial compound eye will not be used for capturing surveillance footage or images as that process demands a camera with higher resolutions to analyze the images.But,it can be used as a robust,low-power way for a drone to autonomously navigate its surroundings.

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