CURVed Artificial Compound Eyes


The vertebrate eye has provided inspiration for the design of conventional cameras with single-aperture optics to provide a faithful rendering of the visual world. The insect compound eye, in spite of bearing a comparatively lower resolution than the vertebrate eye, is very efficient for local and global motion analysis over a large field of view (FOV), making it an excellent sensor for accurate and fast navigation in 3D dynamic environments. Furthermore, compound eyes take several shapes and curvatures to fit the head and viewing directions of very different types of insects while offering the same functionality.

The goal of this project is to design, develop, and assess a novel curved and flexible vision sensor for fast extraction of motion-related information. We call these integrated systems CURVed Artificial Compound Eyes (CURVACE).

Compared to conventional cameras, artificial compound eyes will offer more efficient visual abilities for motion analysis,  a much larger field of view in a smaller size and weight, bearing a thin packaging and being self-contained and programmable. Additionally, we will use neuromorphic imagers with adaptive sensitivity, and the rendered images will yield less distortion and less aberration. Furthermore, the fabricated CURVACE will bear mechanical adaptability to a range of shapes and curvatures, and some versions will offer space within the convexity for embedding processing units, battery, or additional sensors that are useful for motion-related computation.
In addition to the scientific and coordination management, the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems has the following roles in the project:

  • Conception of specifications of the global design of CURVACE
  • Design and production of the novel flexible printed circuit boards as well as its integration with the compound eyes
  • Design and fabrication of the spherical compound eye as well as its integration and validation in in-house flying robots for navigation control and egomotion estimation
  • Research on novel formulas of sensor fusion between visual and inertial information acquired with the artificial compound sensor
  • Design and fabrication of the tape compound eye and integration and validation as a wearable vision sensor to be used by vision-impaired people for collision avoidance

Applications of CURVACE as vision sensors for flight navigation control in microflyers (left) and as collision-alert system for visually impaired people (right)

Miniature CURVACE prototype

In CURVACE, we describe a unique design method for biomimetic compound eyes featuring a panoramic, undistorted field of view in a very thin package. The design consists of three planar layers of separately produced arrays, namely, a microlens array, a neuromorphic photodetector array, and a flexible printed circuit board that are stacked, cut, and curved to produce a mechanically flexible imager. Following this method, we have prototyped and characterized an artificial compound eye bearing a hemispherical field of view with embedded and programmable low-power signal processing, high temporal resolution, and local adaptation to illumination. The prototyped artificial compound eye possesses several characteristics similar to the eye of the fruit fly Drosophila and other arthropod species. This design method opens up additional vistas for a broad range of applications in which wide field motion detection is at a premium, such as collision-free navigation of terrestrial and aerospace vehicles, and for the experimental testing of insect vision theories.

Floreano D, et al. (2013) Miniature curved artificial compound eyes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, available online.

Curved Artificial Compound Eye. (A) Image of the CurvACE prototype. The entire device occupies a volume of 2.2 cm3, weighs 1.75 g, and consumes 0.9 W at maximum power. (B) Illustration of the panoramic FOV of the fabricated prototype. The dots and circles represent the angular orientation and acceptance angle of every ommatidium, respectively.



Curved artificial compound-eyes for autonomous navigation

R. Leitel; A. Brückner; W. Buss; S. Viollet; R. Pericet Camara et al. 

2014. Micro-Optics, Brussels, Belgium, APR 14-16, 2014. DOI : 10.1117/12.2052710.

Miniature artificial compound eyes for optic-flow-based robotic navigation

R. Pericet Camara; G. Bahi Vila; J. Lecoeur; D. Floreano 

2014. Workshop on Information Optics WIO2014, Neuchatel, Switzerland, July 7-11, 2014. p. 1-3. DOI : 10.1109/WIO.2014.6933290.


Miniature curved artificial compound eyes

D. Floreano; R. Pericet Camara; S. Viollet; F. Ruffier; A. Brückner et al. 

PNAS. 2013. Vol. 110, num. 23, p. 9332-9337. DOI : 10.1073/pnas.1219068110.

Hyper-flexible 1-D shape sensor

M. Dobrzynski; H. Vanderparre; R. Pericet Camara; G. L’Eplattenier; S. Lacour et al. 

2013. The 17th International Conference on Solid-State Sensors, Actuators and Microsystems, Barcelona, Spain, June 16-20, 2013. p. 1899-1902. DOI : 10.1109/Transducers.2013.6627163.


Quantifying information transfer through a head attached vibrotactile display: principles for design and control

M. Dobrzynski; S. Mejri; S. Wischmann; D. Floreano 

IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering. 2012. Vol. 59, num. 7, p. 2011-2018. DOI : 10.1109/TBME.2012.2196433.

Contactless deflection sensing of concave and convex shapes assisted by soft mirrors

M. Dobrzynski; I. Halasz; R. Pericet Camara; D. Floreano 

2012. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2012, Vilamoura, Algarve, Portugal, October 7-12, 2012. p. 4810-4815. DOI : 10.1109/IROS.2012.6385505.

Vision Tape – a flexible compound vision sensor for motion detection and proximity estimation

M. Dobrzynski; R. Pericet Camara; D. Floreano 

IEEE Sensors Journal. 2012. Vol. 12, num. 5, p. 1131-1139. DOI : 10.1109/JSEN.2011.2166760.


CURVACE – CURVed Artificial Compound Eyes

R. Pericet Camara; M. Dobrzynski; G. L’Eplattenier; J-C. Zufferey; F. Expert et al. 

2011. 2nd European Future Technologies Conference and Exhibition 2011 (FET 11), Budapest, Hungary, May 4-6, 2011. p. 308-309. DOI : 10.1016/j.procs.2011.09.040.

Vision Tape – a novel class of flexible vision sensor for robots and humans

M. Dobrzynski; G. L’Eplattenier; R. Pericet Camara; D. Floreano 

IEEE Swiss Image and Vision Sensors Workshop 2011 (SIVS 2011), Zurich, Switzerland, September 8, 2011.

Contactless deflection sensor for soft robots

M. Dobrzynski; R. Pericet Camara; D. Floreano 

2011. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), San Francisco, USA, September 25-30, 2011. p. 1913-1918. DOI : 10.1109/IROS.2011.6048425.