Researchers at the SR2 Group (Laurel, MD, USA) have been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation to enable them to develop a robotic system to automate the capture of 3-D images of insects.
Many insects have been preserved on pins in museum drawers and cabinets, with the ten largest collections housing over 100 million insects. But while the scope of these collections is immense, the expertise needed to identify insects is in decline as taxonomists retire and university positions close. For some insect groups, few or no experts remain capable of identifying species.
The robotic handling system proposed by the researchers at the SR2 Group aims to improve the rate at which images of pinned insects could be captured and digitized from museum specimens to aid those involved in computer-automated insect identification.
Potential customers for the system include not only museums but environmental monitoring agencies as well.
-- By Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design