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Robotics Technology

CurvACE Gives Robots a Bug's Eye View 16

Posted by samzenpus
from the bug-eyed dept.
Zothecula writes "Robots are getting down to the size of insects, so it seems only natural that they should be getting insect eyes. A consortium of European researchers has developed the artificial Curved Artificial Compound Eye (CurvACE) which reproduces the architecture of the eyes of insects and other arthropods. The aim isn't just to provide machines with an unnerving bug-eyed stare, but to create a new class of sensors that exploit the wide field of vision and motion detecting properties of the compound eye."
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CurvACE Gives Robots a Bug's Eye View

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  • Robots are getting down to the size of insects, so it seems only natural that they should be getting insect eyes.

    Robots aren't natural, so no, it doesn't.

    • Does it really matter? Robotic ovipositors aren't natural, either, but as near as I can tell from Internet research, will be very popular.

    • Re:Problem (Score:4, Informative)

      by lxs (131946) on Monday May 27, 2013 @02:10PM (#43833805)

      The single eye with lens has evolved at least twice on Earth (once in vertebrates and once in arthropods) so it seems like the natural option. Still insects have evolved a different solution for vision. The obvious answer to that is that compound eyes are more practical when your head is tiny.
      I've read somewhere that a mammal style eye on a bee would have to fill its entire head to be useful. A smaller eye would have an aperture only a couple of wavelenghts wide which would render a traditional lens incapable of forming an image.

      • Re:Problem (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ceoyoyo (59147) on Monday May 27, 2013 @02:57PM (#43834035)

        The other way around. The maximum resolution of a lens is limited by diffraction. The only way around that limitation is to increase the number of lenses (compound eyes), or increase the size (simple eyes). Increasing the number is a simple solution and works pretty well when you're tiny and so can't have high resolution vision anyway. As you get bigger, the increase-the-size-of-the-lens solution becomes much more efficient, so most bigger organisms have simple eyes. If humans had compound eyes, they would have to be ridiculously large (the size of a house, by one estimation) to give equivalent resolution: http://web.neurobio.arizona.edu/gronenberg/nrsc581/eyedesign/visualacuity.pdf [arizona.edu].

  • by PPH (736903) on Monday May 27, 2013 @01:56PM (#43833741)

    With very wide fields of view and good motion detection. These could put a major dent in UAV operations.

  • by kermidge (2221646) on Monday May 27, 2013 @02:31PM (#43833879) Journal

    There are several similar projects I've read about recently; each in their own way is interesting for their approach and initial impetus, let alone the engineering.

    (One, which I now can't find, was done by a guy at an American university; it was quite large, about the size of a small trashcan and used the guts from existing cameras, While it was a neat project in itself, it was the software he was working on that intrigued me. (My search fu is dead. 45 minutes of using Google to ten pages in didn't show it; searching through two browsers' worth of bookmarks, tags, didn't find it. Also couldn't find his vid on YouTube. Aaargh.))

    Anyway, with respect to the article, if they can get the size down and get useful info for nav and seeing things, it'll open new possibilities. Searching for people in collapsed buildings comes to mind, and there are of course all the surveillance uses.

  • forgive me if this is a stupid question, but what was wrong with the fish-eye lens? it seems to me the it would be easier to correct for distortion with a fish eyes (constant radius) then having to deal with the Kaleidoscope effect of a bug-eye lens
    • by X0563511 (793323)

      I can't find the article now, of course... but I recall that there was recent work being done on an imaging technique that uses a compound lens. The lens has no "focal length" in that the entire image is sharp, and the distance of every point is known from the single optic device (no need to use binocular vision (or more, or other sensors) to infer the range, as each input from each part of the lens contributes)

      Computer vision could have a field day with that.

  • " The aim isn't just to provide machines with an unnerving bug-eyed stare..."

    ...a serendipitous byproduct?

  • I can see this being used more to enhance security cameras, rather than robots. Have a couple of bug-eye lenses to monitor 360 deg for movement, then PTZ a high def camera when movement is detected.

    Might also be applicable for self-driving cars?

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