LONDON The University of Manchester is to develop a vision chip as part of the REVERB project, which involves BAE Systems and a number of UK Universities, and is aimed at developing new technologies which will enable robots to respond to events and multi-task in similar ways to humans and animals.
Dr Piotr Dudek, from the University's School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said, “The vision chip will be based on the retina of the human eye and will work in a similar way giving the robot excellent peripheral and central vision. Like the human eye, the chip will process very complex images at rapid rates filtering them through to the robot's brain and enabling it to react in real time.”
The chip will be based on a prototype Dr Dudek has spent the last seven years developing. It measures 1sq cm and contains 16,384 microprocessors enabling images to be sensed and processed at ultra-high speeds.
The aim of the REVERB project is to unravel how the vertebrate brain copes with the action-selection problem. Once the team have established this, computational models of the brain will be constructed and used in the robots.
Dr Kevin Gurney from the University of Sheffield, who is leading the REVERB project, added, “This project will enable researchers from a number of disciplines and institutions across the UK to work together to understand how animal nervous systems integrate sensory information in guiding behaviour, and then to transfer these insights to the building of robotic platforms.”
BAE Systems believes the technology could be used in devices such as its laser-guided crawler for carrying out tasks such as machining and inspection of aircraft parts. Other ideas include building devices to assist the disabled or infirm.
REVERB (Reverse Engineering the Vertebrate Brain) is a £1.9million five year project by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and also involves the University of Sheffield, University of Wales (Aberystwyth), Bristol University, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, and the University of Dundee.