ScienceShot: The Secret Eyes of Bees

W. Stürzl et al., Bioinspir. Biomim., 5 (2010)

Humans generally see only what's right in front of them, but bees see almost in a full circle. Their eyes come equipped with a field of view more than 300 degrees around, enabling them to take in more than three-fourths of their surroundings. To see what that world view looks like, researchers set up a video camera behind a convex mirror, so light from the sides bounced off the mirror and into the lens. The process gave them two images: a central image and an outer image, which they combined to create a complete picture. It's not a perfect copy of bee vision, the team reports online today in Bioinspiration & Biomimetics. The camera only covers a 280-degree field of vision, and the insects can't see red, either, so the world should have a turquoise or purplish tinge. But the researchers hope the expanded field of view could one day help mobile robots or light-weight flying vehicles better navigate their surroundings.

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*This item has been corrected. It originally stated that bees have a 280-degree field of view, rather more than a 300-degree view. The camera only covers a 280-degree field of vision.

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