GoPro Beetles Camera Backpack
Photo credit: Mark Stone / University of Washington
University of Washington researchers have developed a GoPro for beetles, or in other words, a small wireless steerable camera that can also ride aboard an insect, giving everyone a chance to see an Ant-Man view of the world. This tiny camera streams live video to a smartphone at 1-5 fps and sits on a mechanical arm that can pivot 60°. Viewers would then be able to capture a high-resolution, panoramic shot or track a moving object while expending a minimal amount of energy. Read more for a video and additional information.

Most small cameras, like those found on smartphones, use quite a bit of power to capture wide-angle, high-resolution photos, and this wouldn’t be feasible for use on an insect scale. So, to mimic an animal’s vision, researchers utilized a tiny, ultra-low-power black-and-white camera that can sweep across a field of view using a mechanical arm, which moves when the team applies a high voltage. If no additional power is supplied, the arm stays at that angle for about a minute before relaxing back to its original position.

GoPro HERO8 Black - Waterproof Action Camera with Touch Screen 4K Ultra HD Video 12MP Photos 1080p Live Streaming Stabilization
  • HyperSmooth 2.0: HERO8 Black has three levels of stabilization – On, High and Boost. Get the widest views, or boost to the smoothest video ever offered in a HERO camera. Works with all resolutions and frame rates, and features in-app horizon leveling
  • Streamlined Design: The re-imagined shape is more pocketable, and folding fingers at the base let you swap mounts quickly. A new side door makes changing batteries even faster, and the lens is now 2x more impact-resistant compared to previous models
  • Expandable Mods: Vloggers, pro filmmakers and aspiring creators can do more than ever imagined with our HERO8 Black mods (sold separately). Media Mod gives you shotgun-mic performance and lets you attach Light Mod and Display Mod to up your capture game
  • Live Streaming in 1080p: Share while you’re there. Live stream in 1080p on social media, get HyperSmooth stabilization as you broadcast via the GoPro app and save footage to your SD card to check out later
  • TimeWarp 2.0: Capture super-stabilized time lapse videos while moving through an activity. Automatically adjust speed based on motion, scene detection and lighting. Slow the effect to real time – savoring special moments – and then tap to speed it back up

Similar to cameras, vision in animals requires a lot of power. It’s less of a big deal in larger creatures like humans, but flies are using 10 to 20% of their resting energy just to power their brains, most of which is devoted to visual processing. To help cut the cost, some flies have a small, high-resolution region of their compound eyes. They turn their heads to steer where they want to see with extra clarity, such as for chasing prey or a mate. This saves power over having high resolution over their entire visual field,” said co-author Sawyer Fuller, a UW assistant professor of mechanical engineering.