Fly's Eyes Inspire Robot Vision

Posted 3 Aug 2009 at 19:04 UTC by steve Share This

The Cognition for Technical Systems research group in Munich has been working on improved robot vision systems based on fly vision. Why?

The fly's brain is hardly bigger than a pinhead, too small by far to enable the fly's feats if it functioned exactly the way the human brain does. It must have a simpler and more efficient way of processing images from the eyes into visual perception, and that is a subject of intense interest for robot builders.

The article notes that some flies process images at 100 frames per second, allowing in-flight obstacle avoidance with millisecond response time, something you may have noticed if you ever tried to swat a fly. In particular the researchers are focusing (no pun intended) on optical flow, or as they call it, "optical flux fields". The fly's optical flux field implementation is made up of a first layer of neurons that process the raw input from each compound eye element and feed it to a second stage composed of only 60 neurons for each hemisphere, which reduce the visual field to a series of motion vectors giving the speed and direction of everything it sees. Condylostylus fly macro image by flickr user Opo Terser

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