Insects have some pretty amazing eyesight. Unlike humans, where we only have two single-lens eyes, insects have a larger array of eyes that offer a wider field-of-view. Scientists have obviously been studying these kinds of eyes for a long time, and now that we’re at a certain point with technology, engineers are wanting to artificially replicate insect eyes using cameras.
European researchers have developed what they call the Curved Artificial Compound Eye (CurvACE), which is a camera system of sorts that replicates what most insects see, providing a full 180-degree view from side to side, as well as a 60-degree view from top to bottom. These sorts of camera systems could be used in security cameras and drones in the future, but their main use will be detecting surroundings rather than capturing surveillance footage.
Of course, this isn’t the first camera inspired by insect eyes. Just earlier this month, we reported on a group of scientists building an insect-inspired camera system that consists of a half-dome of multiple camera lens that provide one high-resolution image when combined. However, that one only provides a 160-degree field of view, rather than the complete 180-degree viewpoint.
As you can see from the photo above, the CurvACE is a U-shaped camera consisting of multiple strips of camera lens, with approximately 15 lenses on each strip. Below this array of camera lenses is an array of photodetectors, which will give drones the detection power they need to monitor their surroundings and detect incoming threats.
You can also see that the camera system is smaller than a coin, so it’ll be able to fit in a variety of smaller areas without taking up space, so it shouldn’t be a burden adding these on to drones. But taking a closeup look at one of these makes you wonder how in the world it could possibly be smaller than a coin, but science can do some pretty amazing things.