New anti-collision detector inspired by insects


Some researchers who publish an article in ACS Nano have designed a simple, low-power collision detector inspired by the way insects avoid colliding with each other.

Vehicles already incorporate numerous collision avoidance systems (CAS) capable of automatically braking when an object gets too close. Some work by analyzing an image of the space around the car, but in conditions like heavy rain or low light, the image isn’t as clear. To compensate for this, complicated signal processors are used to make sense of what is still visible. Another method is to incorporate radar sensors or LiDAR (light detection and ranging), but they are difficult to miniaturize and need a lot of power. In the end, these instruments can add unnecessary weight, power requirements and complications, despite making the vehicle safer.

But insects, including locusts and flies, can easily avoid collisions with each other without relying on fancy software or LiDAR, even at night. Instead, they use certain neural circuits to avoid obstacles, which are very effective and could inspire a new generation CAS.

So Saptarshi Das of Pennsylvania State University and his colleagues wanted to create a collision detector inspired by insects and adapted to detect vehicles that was effective, safe and consumed less energy than its predecessors.

Firstthe team designed an algorithm based on the neural circuitry that insects use to avoid an obstacle. Instead of processing an entire image, they only processed one variable: the intensity of a car’s headlights. With no need for an on-board camera or image sensor, the detection and processing units were combined, reducing the size of the detector and increasing its energy efficiency. The sensor was made up of eight photosensitive “memtransistors”. built from a layer of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), arranged in a circuit. It occupied only 40 square picometers and consumed a few hundred picojoules of power, tens of thousands of times less than current systems.

Finally, in real night scenarios, the detector could detect a potential accident between two cars two to three seconds before it occurred, giving the driver enough time to take critical corrective action. The researchers claim that this novel detector It can contribute to improving and making existing collision avoidance systems safer.