To use the artificial compound eye for measuring 3D trajectory, the researchers added grids to each eyelet that help pinpoint location. They then placed LED light sources at known distances and directions from the compound eye and used an algorithm to calculate the 3D location of the LEDs based on the location and intensity of the light. The researchers found that the compound eye system was able to rapidly provide the 3D location of an object. However, the location accuracy was reduced when the light sources were farther away, which could explain why most insects are near-sighted.
Such bio-inspired compound eyes able to detect an object’s 3D location could be useful for small robots requiring fast detection from a very lightweight system. Next, the researchers aim to embed the localization algorithm into integrated circuits to allow the system to be incorporated into other devices. They are also developing ways to mass produce the compound eye lenses to reduce the unit cost.
A curved compound lens containing 169 microlenses on the surface. Credit: Le Song, Tianjin University