Scientists from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore developed an ultrafast high-contrast camera that could help self-driving cars and drones see better in extreme road conditions and in bad weather. Unlike typical optical cameras, which can be blinded by bright light and unable to make out details in the dark, NTU’s new smart camera can record the slightest movements and objects in real time.

Assistant Professor Chen Shoushun with the new ultrafast camera.

A typical camera sensor has several millions pixels – sensor sites that record light information and are used to form a resulting picture. The more complex the environment, the slower the processing of the video data. To enable instant processing of visual data, the camera sensor detects changes between light intensity of individual pixels. This avoids the needs to capture the whole scene like a photograph, thus increasing the camera’s processing speed.