Bioengineers develop bionic 3D cameras with bug eyes and bat sonar

Meanwhile, insects have geometric-shaped compound eyes, in which each “eye” is composed of hundreds to tens of thousands of individual units for sight. This means they can see the same thing from multiple lines of sight.

The researchers designed a high-performance 3D camera system that leverages these advantages found in bats and insects while at the same time addressing any inherent shortcomings.

Bioengineers develop bionic 3D cameras with bug eyes and bat sonar

Bat and insect inspired 3D imaging.

“While the idea itself has been tried, seeing across a range of distances and around occlusions has been a major hurdle,” said study leader Liang Gao, an associate professor of bioengineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering.

“To address that, we developed a novel computational imaging framework, which for the first time enables the acquisition of a wide and deep panoramic view with simple optics and a small array of sensors.”

The new framework is called “Compact Light-field Photography,” or CLIP, and studies have proved that it can be used to “see” hidden objects. This effect is supported by a type of LiDAR, or “Light Detection And Ranging,” in which a laser scans the surroundings to create a 3D map of the area.

Seven LIDAR cameras and CLIP

The new device uses seven LiDAR cameras combined with CLIP to take a lower-resolution image of the scene, process what individual cameras see, and reconstruct the combined scene in high-resolution 3D imaging.

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