James Kenealey robots
INDUSTRY NEWS | 3 MIN READ
Insect eye research throws new light onto their rapid responsiveness to visual stimuli.
Scientists have developed a robotic eye based on insect structure
A project studying insect eyes and how they appear to be so agile and responsive could potentially open the doors for advanced robotic technology.
Researchers from Tianjin University in China report their new bio-inspired compound eye, which not only looks like that of an insect but also works like one, could be used to create 3D location systems for robotic technology.
The development and research that took place for this project has potentially changed the way scientists understand how insect eyes work.
“Imitating the vision system of insects has led us to believe that they might detect the trajectory of an object based on the light intensity coming from that object rather than using precise images like human vision,” said Le Song, a member of the research team.
The researchers used a method known as single point diamond turning to create 169 microlenses on the surface of the compound eye, each with a radius of 1 mm. This creates a component measuring about 20 mm that could detect objects from a 90-degree field of view.
The researchers added grids to each eyelet that help pinpoint location in order to measure 3D trajectory. They then placed LED light sources at specific distances and directions from the compound eye and used an algorithm to calculate the 3D location of the LEDs based on the location and intensity of the light.
“This design allowed us to prove that the compound eye could identify an object’s location based on its brightness instead of a complex image process,” said Song. “This highly sensitive mechanism suits the brain processing ability of insects very well and helps them avoid predators.”
This technology could have far-reaching utilisations for the world of artificial intelligence. Driverless cars have long been on the agenda, and technology as sharp and reliable as the artificial compound eye could be invaluable to the visualisation systems for these vehicles when operating at high speeds.
Furthermore, the technology also has the potential to be included in human robots. We’ve already seen that engineers have developed electronic skin to give robotic hands a similar dexterity to human hands, so allied with this eye technology human robotics are starting to look very agile indeed.