That's not Wall-E, but Cyclops, a four-wheeled robot developed by Caltech scientists for studying possible forms of sight restoration with the help of a digital camera planted in the eye of the robot. According to CNET, the movements of the digital camera eye could "help refine artificial retinas and other prostheses used by the visually impaired." Their objective is to study the digital camera's head movements (left-to-right and up-and-down) to get a better understanding of how artificial vision prostheses work for the people that use them.
Retinal implants implement miniature digital cameras for seeing and capturing images, which are then processed and sent to an electrode array in an implanted silicon chip. The monocular robot itself is operated by a joystick remote, but it can be done through Wi-Fi as well. As of this summer, there are reportedly at least 30 people who have such implants. The camera itself isn't very complex, nor does it have to be. While the article doesn't specify a brand or manufacturer, Caltech researchers used a cheap consumer FireWire model. One researcher, Wolfgang Fink, said that typical retinal implants usually range from "16 to 50-plus pixels, whereas any cheap camera has a quarter million or more." Thus, the digital camera just needs to produce images of at least 30 frames per second.
For more details about the project and others like it, click here for the full article.
[Photo via CNET/Caltech]