Home > Papers from 2010 > How to see what a bee sees.

How to see what a bee sees.

As we want to understand how insects produce spatial behaviour in the natural world then we need to understand how their sensory systems provide them with information. Wolfgang Stürzl and colleagues have recently come up with a really nice innovation, a hybrid mirror and lens system, that will enable them to image full panoramic scenes as a bee would. Here Wolfgang describes the basics of the system:

” The eyes of honeybees have a very large field of view (FoV) – basically bees see everything except where their body covers a small part of the viewing sphere. To build an imaging system that provides a FoV of similar range of that of bees with a single camera, we combined mirrors and lenses. An unobstructed view was achieved by machining the reflective surface into acrylic glass and coating it with a thin aluminium layer by means of vacuum deposition. In the concave opening, lenses were introduced covering the part of the visual field that otherwise would have been obstructed by the mirror. The imaging thus consists of two different optical paths visible also in the raw camera. The captured images can be remapped to a continuous images covering a FoV of 280° . Having achieved the large FoV, we also developed a model of the spatial resolution of honeybee eyes. As shown in the resulting maps of viewing directions, the resolution is highest along the horizon (elevation angle 0°) and near 45° azimuth angle.  Our “bee eye” camera allows us to assess the world from the perspective of bees. Knowing some of the fundamental constraints for the visual system of honeybees helps us to better understand their navigation mechanisms, e.g., which objects in a scene are detectable and can thus provide cues for navigation. The imaging system is also well suited for mobile robots, in particular on flying vehicles that need light-weight sensors. In the future, we hope to extend the spectral range of our imaging system as bees have photoreceptors sensitive in the near UV that can provide important cues for recognition and localization. Also polarization of skylight has been shown to be an important cue for orientation. In addition, further processing and motor control stages will be included in our bee model to obtain further insights into the navigation capabilities of these fascinating little animals. ” – Wolfgang Stürzl

W Stürzl, N Boeddeker, L Dittmar and M Egelhaaf (2010) Mimicking honeybee eyes with a 280° field of view catadioptric imaging system. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, 5, 3.

Categories: Papers from 2010
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