The first amphibious machine vision system

A crab-inspired machine vision system for both terrestrial and aquatic environments.

Most existing sensors and cameras are designed to work both on land and in aquatic environments.

However, bio-inspired artificial vision systems capable of operating in both terrestrial and aquatic environments remain scarce.

This amphibious system, presented in an article published in Nature Electronics, allows robots to obtain a 360 ° panoramic view of the surrounding environment, so that they can detect obstacles and navigate environments more effectively.

“Previous work on wide field of view (FoV) cameras was always less than 180 °, which is not enough for ‘full’ panoramic viewing, and they were not suitable for changing outdoor environments … We wanted to develop a FoV camera to 360 ° able to acquire images both in the air and in the water ”: this is what was said by one of the researchers, Young Min Song.

An amphibious viewer inspired by the eyes of crabs

It was designed by researchers from the Institute for Basic Science (IBS), Seoul National University, Gwangju Institute of Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Texas at Austin.

This 360 ° amphibious artificial vision system, capable of acquiring images both in the air and in the water, is inspired by the eyes of fiddler crabs. In fact, this unique species is able to have a complete panoramic view of the surrounding environment without having to move its eyes and body.

To artificially reproduce the fiddler crab’s eyes, the research team used a flat camera lens.

The amphibious viewer is composed of a series of flat microlenses with a graduated refractive index and a series of comb-shaped flexible silicon photodiodes on a spherical structure. The microlenses used can maintain their focal length regardless of changes in the external refractive index between air and water.


“If you use a conventional lens with curvature for imaging, its focal point changes when you immerse the lens in water … On the other hand, if you use a lens with a flat surface, you can see an image sharp regardless of environmental conditions. The fiddler crab that lives in the intertidal region has this type of flat surface of its lens and we have just imitated this crab-eye lens. ”

“In our next studies we will conduct further engineering to achieve higher resolution and superior imaging performance …

We are still interested in developing a new type of camera with unique imaging features inspired by the eyes of other animals ”.


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