Robotic Insects given Laser eyes

Robotic Insects given Laser eyes

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Robotic insects are being improved upon every day. Now, researchers from the University at Buffalo (UB) are giving robotic bees tiny laser-powered sensors that act as eyes so they can sense the size, shape and distance of approaching objects.

“Essentially, it’s the same technology that automakers are using to ensure that driverless cars don’t crash into things,” says Karthik Dantu, UB computer scientist. “Only we need to shrink that technology so it works on robot bees that are no bigger than a penny.”

The UB team is addressing the issue by giving them remote sensing technology called LIDAR (light detection and ranging), the same laser-based sensor system that works in driverless cars. LIDAR works like radar, but it emits invisible laser beams instead of microwaves. The beams capture light reflected from distant objects and then sensors measure the time it takes for the light to return in order to calculate the distance and shape of the objects.

Lastly, the information is analyzed by computer algorithms to form a coherent image of the car’s path, which enables the car to “see” what is around. Dantu and the team want to shrink this system down into a system called “micro-LIDAR.”

Source: IHS Electronics 360