Future drones will see the way the eye does to navigate dark rooms.
Camera-armed multi-rotor drones take great pictures…during the day. But if they are to guide themselves through darkened rooms and buildings, they need to see in low-light conditions while quickly moving. A new type of visual sensor developed by Swiss researchers will allow drones to see as human eyes do. That will enable small drones to be more useful in both “civilian and military applications,” such as finding people trapped in rubble or during complex urban warfare scenarios, the research team’s head said.
Conventional cameras work by collecting lots of information about light (specifically light intensity). They treat all the data equally, which is fine for taking single pictures. But when the light is low, or when the camera is moving, as it would on a drone, that technique produces blurred pictures that don’t convey any useful information.
The Dynamic Vision Sensor, or DVS, works differently. “Instead of wastefully sending entire images at fixed frame rates, only the local pixel-level changes caused by movement in a scene are transmitted – at the time they occur,” Davide Scaramuzza, one of the paper’s authors and the head of the Director of the Robotics Perception Group at the University of Zurich, explained.
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