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Space Based Multi-Aperture Artificial Compound Eye

Award Information

Department of Defense
Air Force
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2010 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
AF 05-147
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Spectral Imaging Laboratory
2130 E Walnut Street Pasadena, CA -
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 2
Fiscal Year: 2010
Title: Space Based Multi-Aperture Artificial Compound Eye
Agency / Branch: DOD / USAF
Contract: FA8651-10-C-0133
Award Amount: $450,072.00


The AFRL and DARPA have an interest in developing a compact, high definition panoramic video camera for deployment on low cost Cube Satellites. Ideally the camera would have a suitable means for blocking solar stray light and glints, and it would not have any moving parts. The baseline camera must be versatile enough to transition to other satellites for a variety of purposes. The following applications would be ideally suited for this type of camera system: star tracker navigation, satellite near field monitoring for docking and refueling, space debris tracking, intelligence gathering. The Spectral Imaging Laboratory proposes the development of a high definition artificial compound eye (ACE) derived from natural arthropod compound eyes. Arthropod compound eyes can acquire wide angle images with zero distortion and an infinite depth of field (all objects are in focus at all ranges). Video cameras with these characteristics would benefit by eliminating the need for gimbals and focus mechanisms, thereby reducing volume, mass, and potential failure points. The high definition ACE relies on curved (3D) glass lens arrays. The purpose of this project is to develop the ability to mold 3D glass lens arrays with sufficiently high surface quality to enable high resolution imaging. BENEFIT: This research will result in the ability to mold high quality 3D double sided lens arrays suitable for high resolution imaging. This capability will enable the development of a distortion free, high definition panoramic camera that does not require focus adjustment. The optics fabrication is based on a hot press molded, curved lens array technology that is ideally suited for low cost, high volume production. The principal application is a new type of star tracker that can view to within 5 degrees of the sun. Other commercial applications include robotic and autonomous wide area surveillance. Robots will benefit from the wide field of view, infinite depth of field attribute by using it to navigate more reliably through rugged terrain. The optics will enable real time navigation for autonomous flying robots that use the optical flow field to navigate. Robots designed to grasp objects will benefit from being able to view objects in focus at every distance.

Principal Investigator:

Francis Reininger
Principal Scientist

Business Contact:

Ella Makarkina
Small Business Information at Submission:

Spectral Imaging Laboratory
1785 Locust St. #10 Pasadena, CA 91106

EIN/Tax ID: 710874004
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No