Future Micro Drones Will Have Artificial Compound Insect Eyes
Camera systems are usually made to work like our eyeballs do, though the most sophisticated eyes of any animal are of the compound variety. Thus roboticists are now working on the development of their own versions of compound eyes, which in many ways outdo the human eyeballs. A group of researchers from EPFL in Switzerland has unveiled a new artificial compound insect eye. The designed eye is unique because it offers a huge insect-like field of view, very fast performance under all sorts of lighting conditions, moreover, it’s mechanically flexible, so at just 1 mm thin, you can bend it into different shapes. Both the real and artificial eyes offer a horizontal field of view of 180 degrees, and they consist of a similar number of pixels. But the advantage of the artificial eye is that it is faster, operating at up to 300 hertz, while a fruit fly only updates at 100 hertz. These aren’t the cameras for taking pictures; they’re amazing at sensing movement, or sensing changes in the intensity of light generated by motion. It works indoors, outdoors, in bright sun, and in shade (or even moonlight), and has no trouble adapting to abrupt transitions between any of these states, which is something that conventional cameras are lousy at. These sensors can bring an array of advantages to robotics, especially to the development of lightweight aerial platforms.