UNIVERSITY DEVELOPS BREAKTHROUGH DRONE MIMICKING INSECT FLIGHT

NOREDA FARYZA BINTI MD YAACOB

KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 (Bernama) -- Multi-disciplinary team at National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) recently developed an artificial intelligence (AI) chip that mimics the optical nerves of the fruit fly, allowing drones to automatically avoid obstacles while remaining in an ultra-power-saving mode.

The research was led by professors Tang Kea-tiong of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Lo Chung-chuan of the Department of Life Sciences from the university, according to a statement.

Intrigued by the fruit fly’s uncanny ability to avoid obstacles, Tang figured that it might be possible to replicate the optical nerve of this tiny insect and adapt it to AI applications.

The first task was to solve the problem of information overload. According to Tang, the image sensor currently used in cameras and mobile phones have millions of pixels, whereas the eye of a fruit fly has only about 800 pixels.

When the fruit fly’s brain processes such visual signals as contour and contrast, it utilises a kind of detection mechanism which automatically filters out unimportant information, and only pays attention to moving objects liable to collide with.

By imitating this detection mechanism, the research team has developed an AI chip which makes it possible to use hand gestures and an image sensor to operate a drone.

The AI chip developed by the research team represents a major breakthrough in the area of in-memory computing. It mimics neuronal synapses, allowing it to perform computations in the memory, which greatly improves efficiency.

-- BERNAMA