Insect Vision Biomimetics is the art of mimicking the insect vision system using human produced sensors. Insect eyes are tiny compared to the human eye. An insect uses far fewer brain cells to process visual information than does the human brain. By studying insect vision, Biomimetics strives to produce simpler, more efficient systems that are small and lightweight.
The insect compound eye is composed of many subunits called ommatidia. Several thousand tiny ommatidia can be “wrapped” around the outside of an insect head, each with a slightly different angle of view. Each ommatidia captures a portion of the field of view in up to 3 colors, plus polarized light. The field of view of neighboring ommatidia overlap. These features endow the insect eye with the ability to see in all directions at once without turning its head, to accurately position objects in the visual field and track the motion of objects relative to the insect.
Stürzl and colleagues* have developed a “bee-inspired” eye that allows a single camera to command a 280 degree view. The insect-inspired eye uses a combination of lenses and reflective surfaces to direct the light into the camera. The camera is useful in assessing the visual perspective available to a bee. It has potential applications for drones and robots that need a wide field of vision for navigation and avoiding collisions.
*Stürzl, W., Boeddeker, N., Dittmar, L. and Egelhaaf, M. (2010), “Mimicking honeybee eyes with 2808 field of view catadioptric imaging system”, Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, Vol. 5, p. 036002.