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Biologically-inspired integrated vision systems


OBJECTIVE: Human-engineered imaging sensors are anthropomorphic and in some respects very limited in capability. Develop an advanced imaging sensor concept that samples all of the information in the radiation field, taking inspiration from biological systems. DESCRIPTION: Develop advanced imaging sensors specifically designed to utilize most if not all of the information in the light field (spectral, temporal, polarization, detailed object shape) for applications enabling autonomous behavior, including egomotion determination, to aid in navigation; as well as target detection, recognition, ranging and tracking. Develop an integrated design that will include information processing at a fundamentally integrated level with the optics and transduction. Take inspiration from biological systems which are designed this way. Arthropods (insects, crustacea, and arachnids) have developed a variety of systems to exploit the information in the radiation field that are worth consideration. Egomotion determination involves local motion detection which enables global motion detection (optic flow). Target detection involves target-background discrimination which would involve motion detection for moving targets but could also involve spectral, shape, and polarization discrimination. Camouflage-breaking techniques are particularly interesting for static targets. Direction sensing relative to the celestial polarization pattern is fairly well understood in insects, using the ommatidia in the Dorsal Rim Area of the compound eye. Wide field of view (at least pi steradians) systems and ability to conform to shapes with smooth contours, such as airframes, would be especially valuable considerations. PHASE I: Develop a design for a prototype system; analyze the design to demonstrate functionality and feasibility. PHASE II: Produce a deliverable functional prototype with preliminary contractor testing, amenable to further in-depth testing by the sponsor. PHASE III: Commercial applications include surveillance sensors, and sensors for search and rescue. Military applications include ISR sensors and sensors for autonomous vehicles. REFERENCES: 1. M.F. Land and D.E. Nilsson, Animal Eyes, Oxford, 2002. 2. E. Warrant and D.E. Nilsson, Invertebrate Vision, Cambridge, 2006. 3. F. G. Barth, J. A. C. Humphrey, T. W. Secomb, sensors and sensing in biology and engineering, Springer, 2003. 4. Harland, D. P. and R. R. Jackson (2004)."Portia Perceptions: The Umwelt of an Araneophagic Jumping Spider."in Complex Worlds from Simpler Nervous Systems. F. R. Prete. Cambridge MA, Bradford, MIT Press. 5. Chiou, T.H., S. Kleinlogel, et al. (2008)."Circular Polarization Vision in a Stomatopod Crustacean."Current Biology 18: 429-434. 6. Homberg, U., S. Heinze, et al. (2011)."Central neural coding of sky polarization in insects"Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B 366 (Theme Issue"New directions in biological research on polarized light"): 680-687.
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