The way the common bee observes colors could revolutionize the way robots and drones see the world, an Australian study published on Tuesday has found.
A human's ability to see colour is heavily affected by changing light around them, but bees are able to see the same color regardless by using three eyes on top of their head as well as their two main eyes.
Adrian Dyer, the lead author of a study into bee's vision published by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University on Monday, said that the three eyes on top of a bee's head sample the light above them to detect the conditions.
"It means their brain knows what kind of lighting conditions they are in and then, when they are looking directly at a flower, they can say, 'Ah, it's a blue sky day, so the correct color should appear like this, or if it's a cloudy day it should appear like something else," Dyer told Australian media on Tuesday.
Dyer said the discovery of how the three eyes work could solve the long-running problem of how to advance the technology that allows cameras, robots and drones to see the world.
"This is a very big problem for machine vision - how to make reliable decisions when the color of the light changes," Dyer said.
By analyzing the process, researchers identified the mathematical formula used by a bee to process information gathered by the three eyes, information which can be programmed into a computer.
They believe that drones with "bee-vision" could have many practical applications, such as monitoring vegetation for ripeness and inspecting infrastructure.
"These ideas have been around for a while, but the problem has been how to judge color accurately," Dyer said.