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Researchers are developing new technologies that may give robots the visual-sensing edge they need to monitor dimly lit airports, pilot vehicles in extreme weather and direct unmanned combat vehicles.

The researchers intend to create an imaging chip that defeats the harmful effects of arbitrary illumination, allowing robotic vision to leave the controlled lighting of a laboratory and enter the erratic lighting of the natural world. In a first step, the researchers have now developed software that simulates the chip circuitry, a program that alone is capable of uncovering hidden detail in existing images.

Designed by robot-vision expert, Vladimir Brajovic, and his colleagues at Intrigue Technologies, Inc.—a spin-off of the team’s Carnegie Mellon University research—the new optical device will work more like a retina than a standard imaging sensor.

The researchers hope the new technology will yield high-quality image data, despite natural lighting, and ultimately improve the reliability of machine-vision systems, such as those for biometric identification, enhanced X-ray diagnostics and space exploration imagers.

- "New Image Sensor will Show what the Eyes See, and a Camera Cannot: Software behind the technology already finding its way into photo editing," Office of Legislative and Public Affairs http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/start.htm, National Science Foundation http://www.larryblakeley.com/library_research_commercial/national_science_foundation.htm NSF PR 05-005 - January 12, 2005 http://www.nsf.gov/od/lpa/newsroom/pr.cfm?ni=15300000000144

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Post Date: January 23, 2005 at 10:15 AM CST; 1615 GMT