Researchers Develop Amphibious Machine Vision System With Panoramic Field of View Based on Fiddler Crab Eye Structure

Machine vision systems find a wide range of applications, including self-driving cars, object detection, crop monitoring, and smart cameras. Such a vision is often inspired by the vision of biological organisms. For example, human and insect vision inspired terrestrial artificial vision, while fish eyes led to aquatic artificial vision. Despite impressive progress, modern artificial vision systems have certain limitations: they are not suitable for imaging terrestrial and underwater environments and are limited to a hemispherical field of view (FOV) (180°).

To overcome these problems, a group of Korean and American researchers, including Professor Young Min-Song of the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in Korea, developed a new machine vision system with omnidirectional imaging capability that can work both in and out of water. aquatic environments. terrestrial environments. Their study was published online on July 12, 2022 and published in Natural electronics July 11, 2022

“Biotechnology-inspired vision research often leads to new developments that have not been seen before. This, in turn, allows for a deeper understanding of nature and ensures that the developed imaging device is both structurally and functionally efficient,” says Professor Song, explaining the motivation behind the research.

The system was inspired by the fiddler crab (Uca arcuata), a semi-terrestrial crab species with amphibian-like imaging capabilities and a 360° field of vision. These remarkable features are the result of the ellipsoidal eye shape of the compound eyes of the fiddler crab, which allows for panoramic images, and the flat cornea with a graduated refractive index profile, which allows for images of amphibians.

As a result, the researchers developed a vision system consisting of a planar array of microlenses with a graded refractive index profile that was integrated into a flexible silicon array of comb-shaped photodiodes and then mounted on a spherical structure. The graduated refractive index and flat microlens surface have been optimized to compensate for defocusing effects due to environmental changes. Simply put, light rays passing through different media (corresponding to different refractive indices) are focused in one place.

To test the capabilities of their system, the team conducted optical simulations and imaging demonstrations in air and water. Amphibious shooting was performed by submerging the device half in water. To their delight, the images produced by the system were sharp and distortion-free. In addition, the team showed that the system has a panoramic field of view of 300Oh horizontally and 160Oh vertically, in air and in water. In addition, the diameter of the spherical mount was only 2 cm, which made the system compact and portable.

“Our vision system could pave the way for 360° omnidirectional cameras using virtual or augmented reality or all-weather vision for autonomous vehicles,” Professor Song enthuses.

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Materials provided GIST (Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology). Note. Content can be edited for style and length.

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