From biokinematics to a robotic active vision system

Bioinspir Biomim. 2017 Sep 21;12(5):056004. doi: 10.1088/1748-3190/aa7728.


Barn owls move their heads in very particular motions, compensating for the quasi-immovability of their eyes. These efficient predators often perform peering side-to-side head motions when scanning their surroundings and seeking prey. In this work, we use the head movements of barn owls as a model to bridge between biological active vision and machine vision. The biomotions are measured and used to actuate a specially built robot equipped with a depth camera for scanning. We hypothesize that the biomotions improve scan accuracy of static objects. Our experiments show that barn owl biomotion-based trajectories consistently improve scan accuracy when compared to intuitive scanning motions. This constitutes proof-of-concept evidence that the vision of robotic systems can be enhanced by bio-inspired viewpoint manipulation. Such biomimetic scanning systems can have many applications, e.g. manufacturing inspection or in autonomous robots.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Biomimetic Materials*
  • Female
  • Head / physiology*
  • Male
  • Models, Animal
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Robotics / instrumentation*
  • Strigiformes / physiology*
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*