Insect-Eye Camera Offers Wide-Angle Vision for Tiny Drones

That’s amazing!
The news from Jeremy Hsu, and original from
http://spectrum.ieee.org/robotics/robotics-hardware/insecteye-camera-offers-wideangle-vision-for-tiny-drones/?utm_source=techalert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=050213

Composites of hard and soft materials and circuits make up an electronic version of an insect’s compound eyePhoto: University of Illinois and Beckman Institute

Eye See You: Composites of hard and soft materials and circuits make up an electronic version of an insect’s compound eye.New “insect eye” cameras could someday help flying drones see into every corner of a battlefield or give tiny medical scopes an all-around view inside the human body. A team of researchers from the United States has constructed such a camera, which offers an almost 180-degree field of view using hundreds of tiny lenses.

The centimeter-wide digital camera has 180 microlenses—roughly what fire ants or bark beetles have in their compound eyes—placed on a hemispherical array. Researchers hope their design will eventually lead to insect-eye cameras that exceed even nature’s blueprints, according to a report in the 2 May issue of the journal Nature.

“We think of the insect world as an inspiration for design, but we’re not constrained by it,” says John Rogers, a physical chemist and materials engineer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “It’s not biomimicry; it’s bioinspiration.”

Biological insect eyes consist of hundreds or thousands of the tiny units, each having a lens, pigment, and photoreceptors. Each unit’s lens is mounted on a transparent crystalline cone that pipes light down to the photoreceptors. Black pigment isolates each of the eye units and screens out background light.

The 160-degree, 180-pixel eye is inspired by an insect's compound eye.
Photo: University of Illinois and Beckman Institute
Biomimicry: The 160-degree, 180-pixel eye is inspired by an insect’s compound eye.
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