A praying mantis with glasses on. In the UK scientists are putting tiny 3D spectacles on the creatures to find out more about how their three.dimensional vision works.
Researchers at Newcastle University are hoping to understand more about how mantises see could help develop new kinds of 3D technology for computers and robots.
The insects have multi-dimensional sight, although they only see in black and white. It is single minded efficiency as a hunter makes it a good target to study.
“One of the great things about mantises is that they kind of tell us what they’re seeing by their natural responses, so they can’t
move their eyes within their heads so if they see something interesting they tend to move their head around and look at it and they also have this strike response, so they’re predatory insects and if they see something that they think they they can grab, they’ll reach out and try and snatch it,” explained Jenny Reed Professor of Vision Science, Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University.
The mantises leave the bugs when they are shown in 2D but as soon as they appear in 3D, the insects pounce.
The team is hoping that understanding how the mantises see will give them more information about how 3D vision evolved, and could lead to possible new algorithms for 3D depth perception in computers.
“We’re doing experiments to kind of try and work out what they can see, what they can’t see and basically disprove different hypotheses about how their 3D vision works and as we gradually formulate new hypotheses and either disprove them, or find evidence in support of them, then we hope to get closer and closer to replicating the algorithm that they use,” said Professor Reed.
Scientists say they they expect the mantises’ 3D vision to likely be much simpler than ours.
They believe that in the long term these studies may help to develop simpler 3D for robots or drones.
Researchers also hope their work will contribute to the eventual development of new therapies for people with eye conditions such as lazy eye, strabismus, or squint.