Taiwanese research team makes drone fly like insect

The research team has developed an AI chip which makes it possible to use hand gestures and an image sensor to operate a drone

drone

Taiwanese research team makes drone fly like insect. Source shutterstock.com

Professors at the National Tsing Hua University Tang Kea-tiong and Lo Chung-chuan have recently developed an AI chip that mimics the optical nerves of the fruit fly.

Intrigued by the fruit fly’s ability to avoid obstacles, Tang realized it might be possible to replicate the optical nerve of the tiny insect and adapt it to AI applications. The researchers believe drones could automatically avoid obstacles while remaining in an ultra-power-saving mode.

Firstly, the researchers had to solve the problem of information overload. According to Tang, the image sensor currently used in cameras and mobile phones have millions of pixels, whereas the eye of a fruit fly has only about 800 pixels.

When the fruit fly’s brain processes visual signals, it uses a kind of detection mechanism which automatically filters out unimportant data.

According to the information, the drone is taught to focus on what’s most important, and then it’s taught how to judge distance and the likelihood of a collision.

Earlier, Lo conducted an investigation on how the fruit fly detects optical flow. For this purpose, he made extensive use of the fruit fly’s neural pathways maps produced by the Brain Research Center at NTHU.

Optical flow is the relative trajectory left in the field of vision by nearby moving objects, and which is used by the brain to determine its distance and to avoid obstacles
Lo Chung-chuan

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