Curved Artificial Compound Eye: A Bio-Inspired Wide-Angle Vision Sensor


A team of researchers from EPFL in Switzerland has created a miniature artificial compound eye comparable to an insect's, like the fruit fly. In insects, the eye surface is made up of a mosaic of very small optical units known collectively as the ommatidia. The EPFL researchers set out to duplicate the ommatidia, and their version consists of three layers - an outer layer of lenses, a middle layer of light sensors, and an inner-layer circuit board made flexible by using a stacked cut design. The artificial compound eye, which the team calls the CurvACE, is small enough to sit on a nickel and has a 180-degree field of view. The CurvACE operates at 150 frames per second and is able to operate in either high- or low-light environments. The next step for researchers will be embedding the eye (likely as a pair) in tiny flying robots. Another potential application would be as security sensors or even as a means for providing texture recognition for artificial skin.