Robots May Get Compound Insect Eye Vison
Robot vision has taken an interesting turn with the development of a fiber optic sensor inspired by the compound eye of the housefly. Flies can locate small objects with high precision, and are particularly good at distinguishing the edges and boundaries of objects in their visual field.
(Compound eye of the housefly)
Fly vision is really quite highly developed. The field of view of each photoreceptor overlaps with up to 90 percent overlap with those next to it. The photoreceptors convert light into ionic current which goes to the fly's processors.
The researchers designed their sensor to mimic the fly’s overlapping photoreceptors and analog, parallel processing system. The sensor consists of a 1-mm-diameter ball lens that focuses light onto an array of photodetectors, where the field of view overlaps by about 70%. In experiments, the sensor could locate a 1-mm-wide string as the string moved across the field of vision at distances up to 200 mm from the lens, with minimal error.
Researchers at the Naval Air Warfare Center in China Lake, California, and the University of Wyoming are hoping that Musca domestica (the common housefly) will be able to provide improvements to unmanned vehicles and industrial inspection robots.
Update 27-Feb-2017: Take a look at the vision strip from Orphans of the Void (1952) by Orville Shaara and the computer vision from The Metal Giants (1925) by Edmond Hamilton.
I'm betting that robots won't be the only ones who will benefit from research into machine vision; read about Tleilaxu Eyes (Metal Eyes) and Luxvid Eyes (Jensen Wide-Angle).
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