A team of researchers from University of Zurich and NCCR Robotics has developed a device that can help drones to see in the dark. Their eye-inspired camera can easily cope with high-speed motion and even see in pitch black conditions. Even though drones are equipped with GPS, sometimes it may be unreliable in cities.
Conventional cameras can help drones fix their location, but they need ample light to function effectively. Autonomous drones that rely on computer vision are also restricted to flying below speeds that cause motion blur, which renders vision algorithms useless.
To solve these problems, the Swiss team invented a so-called event-based camera. Event cameras are bio-inspired vision sensors that output pixel-level brightness changes instead of standard intensity frames. Crucially, the camera’s retina doesn’t require full light capture to generate a clear image.
“There is still a lot of work to be done before these drones can be deployed in the real world since the event camera used for our research is an early prototype,” says PhD Student Henri Rebecq. Professor Scaramuzza adds: “We think this is achievable, however, and our recent work has already demonstrated that combining a standard camera with an event-based camera improves the accuracy and reliability of the system.”
This is a very useful invention as drones can now see in the dark during search and rescue missions rather than utilising flash lights and heat-sensing sensors.
Images via ZDNet