Artificial eye modelled on a violinist crab

Artificial eye modelled on a violinist crab

In the United States, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology used a crab violinist visual system to create an artificial eye with a view of almost 360°, which can mix visible light and polarize it. The eyes remain sharp and focused when moving from land to a murky aquatic environment.

Biomimicry is a common practice for technological innovation. Be it insects or birds to improve aircraft flight performances, or the structure of a car with hundreds of examples, among the most recent advances in biomimicry, is an experiment carried out by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States to create artificial vision. Their inspiration is a crab violinist whose males have a great deal of claws. Another feature of this type of crab is that they have a visual system that can process both visible light and its polarization.

These two light signals are controlled simultaneously and separately by the crab's nervous system. This process increases the contrast between the object and its background, which is useful when the crab is in a dark environment to avoid attack. Therefore, researchers have used this natural ability to develop an artificial vision system capable of replicating the eyes of the crab, whether under water or on land.

An eye that can see 360 degrees.

This artificial eye resembles a small spherical black balloon. Like a crab eye, it combines a network of flat microlins with a calibrated refractory profile. It passes through a network of flexible photodiodes. In this process, light beams from several sources always come together at the same point on the image sensor. While existing machine vision systems specialize in the same environment, either terrestrial or aquatic, this sphere can work with both environments with an additional field of vision advantage of almost 360°.

By mixing two types of vision, it also provides a three-dimensional image. There are other biomemetic camera models. In other cases, scientists were inspired by the eyes of insects or fish. But in all cases, their field of vision was limited to a maximum of 180 degrees. Their ability to maintain a focus when the eye was sunk into water or when it came out of the water was also not very good.