Technology Bee eyes could lead to better seeing bots

Bee eyes could lead to better seeing bots

The discovery that honeybees have better vision than previously though is causing a buzz in the realm of robotics.

Researchers from The University of Adelaide have discovered that a honeybee’s eyesight is 30 per cent better than previously thought. The breakthrough could have implications for nature-inspired robot designs.

Honeybees possess tiny brains of less than a million neurons but they are capable of big things – like categorising objects and learning concepts through vision.

The University of Adelaide researchers set out to find what the smallest well-defined object a bee can see, and how far away can a bee see an object even if it can’t see it clearly.

They recorded the neural responses occurring in single photoreceptors in a bee’s eyes. Bees have eight photoreceptors which help visualise the world around them.

“These new results suggest that bees have the chance to see a potential predator, and thus escape, far earlier than what we thought previously, or perceive landmarks in the environment better than we expected, which is useful for navigation and thus for survival,” Dr Elisa Rigosi said.

Dr Steven Wiederman says this research offers new and useful information about insect vision more broadly as well as for honey bees.

“Importantly, these findings could also be useful in our work on designing bio-inspired robotics and robot vision, and for basic research on bee biology,” he said.

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