A Tiny Programmable Fly’s Eye

A novel curved artificial compound eye (CurvACE) has been conceived by a collaboration implying researchers from CNRS, Aix-Marseille Université, EPFL at Lausanne, Fraunhofer Institute at Jena and Université de Tuebingen. Compared to single-lens eyes, compound eyes offer lower resolution, but significantly larger fields of view, thin package, and with negligible distortion. Futhermore, CurvACE has embedded and programmable vision processing.

curvACE

 

CurvACE, the first artificial compound eye able to measure, like a flying insect, the apparent velocity of objects as they move across the panoramic eye. (Credit: © CurvACE)

While consumer cameras are inspired from the single-lens mammalian eye, most animal species use compound eyes, which consist of a dense mosaic of tiny eyes. Compared to single-lens eyes, compound eyes offer lower resolution, but significantly larger fields of view, thin package, and with negligible distortion, all features which are very useful for motion detection in tasks such as collision avoidance, distance estimation, and landing. Attempts have recently been made to develop artificial compound eyes, but none of the solutions proposed so far included fast motion detection in a very large range of illuminations as insects do.

The novel curved artificial compound eye (CurvACE) features a panoramic, hemispherical field of view with a resolution identical to that of the fruitfly in less than 1 mm thickness. Additionally, it can extract images 3 times faster than fruitfly, and includes neuromorphic photoreceptors that allow motion perception in a wide range of environments from a sunny day to moon light.

Furthermore, the artificial compound eye possesses embedded and programmable vision processing, which allows customizable integration in a broad range of applications where motion detection is important, such as mobile robots and micro air vehicles, home automation, surveillance, medical instruments, and smart clothing.

CURVACE is funded by the Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) programme within the Seventh Framework Programme for Research of the European Commission, under FET-Open grant number: 237940. The members of the consortium CurvACE are EPFL at Lausanne, Fraunhofer Institute at Jena, Université de Tuebingen, CNRS and Aix-Marseille Université.

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