Most automated driving systems comprise a diverse sensor set, including several cameras, Radars, and LiDARs, ensuring a complete 360\deg coverage in near and far regions. Unlike Radar and LiDAR, which measure directly in 3D, cameras capture a 2D perspective projection with inherent depth ambiguity. However, it is essential to produce perception outputs in 3D to enable the spatial reasoning of other agents and structures for optimal path planning. The 3D space is typically simplified to the BEV space by omitting the less relevant Z-coordinate, which corresponds to the height dimension.The most basic approach to achieving the desired BEV representation from a camera image is IPM, assuming a flat ground surface. Surround vision systems that are pretty common in new vehicles use the IPM principle to generate a BEV image and to show it on display to the driver. However, this approach is not suited for autonomous driving since there are severe distortions introduced by this too-simplistic transformation method. More recent approaches use deep neural networks to output directly in BEV space. These methods transform camera images into BEV space using geometric constraints implicitly or explicitly in the network. As CNN has more context information and a learnable transformation can be more flexible and adapt to image content, the deep learning-based methods set the new benchmark for BEV transformation and achieve state-of-the-art performance. First, this chapter discusses the contemporary trends of multi-camera-based DNN (deep neural network) models outputting object representations directly in the BEV space. Then, we discuss how this approach can extend to effective sensor fusion and coupling downstream tasks like situation analysis and prediction. Finally, we show challenges and open problems in BEV perception.
LiDAR is crucial for robust 3D scene perception in autonomous driving. LiDAR perception has the largest body of literature after camera perception. However, multi-task learning across tasks like detection, segmentation, and motion estimation using LiDAR remains relatively unexplored, especially on automotive-grade embedded platforms. We present a real-time multi-task convolutional neural network for LiDAR-based object detection, semantics, and motion segmentation. The unified architecture comprises a shared encoder and task-specific decoders, enabling joint representation learning. We propose a novel Semantic Weighting and Guidance (SWAG) module to transfer semantic features for improved object detection selectively. Our heterogeneous training scheme combines diverse datasets and exploits complementary cues between tasks. The work provides the first embedded implementation unifying these key perception tasks from LiDAR point clouds achieving 3ms latency on the embedded NVIDIA Xavier platform. We achieve state-of-the-art results for two tasks, semantic and motion segmentation, and close to state-of-the-art performance for 3D object detection. By maximizing hardware efficiency and leveraging multi-task synergies, our method delivers an accurate and efficient solution tailored for real-world automated driving deployment. Qualitative results can be seen at https://youtu.be/H-hWRzv2lIY.
Bird's-eye-view (BEV) grid is a typical representation of the perception of road components, e.g., drivable area, in autonomous driving. Most existing approaches rely on cameras only to perform segmentation in BEV space, which is fundamentally constrained by the absence of reliable depth information. The latest works leverage both camera and LiDAR modalities but suboptimally fuse their features using simple, concatenation-based mechanisms. In this paper, we address these problems by enhancing the alignment of the unimodal features in order to aid feature fusion, as well as enhancing the alignment between the cameras' perspective view (PV) and BEV representations. We propose X-Align, a novel end-to-end cross-modal and cross-view learning framework for BEV segmentation consisting of the following components: (i) a novel Cross-Modal Feature Alignment (X-FA) loss, (ii) an attention-based Cross-Modal Feature Fusion (X-FF) module to align multi-modal BEV features implicitly, and (iii) an auxiliary PV segmentation branch with Cross-View Segmentation Alignment (X-SA) losses to improve the PV-to-BEV transformation. We evaluate our proposed method across two commonly used benchmark datasets, i.e., nuScenes and KITTI-360. Notably, X-Align significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art by 3 absolute mIoU points on nuScenes. We also provide extensive ablation studies to demonstrate the effectiveness of the individual components.
Recent advances in 3D object detection (3DOD) have obtained remarkably strong results for LiDAR-based models. In contrast, surround-view 3DOD models based on multiple camera images underperform due to the necessary view transformation of features from perspective view (PV) to a 3D world representation which is ambiguous due to missing depth information. This paper introduces X$^3$KD, a comprehensive knowledge distillation framework across different modalities, tasks, and stages for multi-camera 3DOD. Specifically, we propose cross-task distillation from an instance segmentation teacher (X-IS) in the PV feature extraction stage providing supervision without ambiguous error backpropagation through the view transformation. After the transformation, we apply cross-modal feature distillation (X-FD) and adversarial training (X-AT) to improve the 3D world representation of multi-camera features through the information contained in a LiDAR-based 3DOD teacher. Finally, we also employ this teacher for cross-modal output distillation (X-OD), providing dense supervision at the prediction stage. We perform extensive ablations of knowledge distillation at different stages of multi-camera 3DOD. Our final X$^3$KD model outperforms previous state-of-the-art approaches on the nuScenes and Waymo datasets and generalizes to RADAR-based 3DOD. Qualitative results video at https://youtu.be/1do9DPFmr38.
Optical flow estimation is a well-studied topic for automated driving applications. Many outstanding optical flow estimation methods have been proposed, but they become erroneous when tested in challenging scenarios that are commonly encountered. Despite the increasing use of fisheye cameras for near-field sensing in automated driving, there is very limited literature on optical flow estimation with strong lens distortion. Thus we propose and evaluate training strategies to improve a learning-based optical flow algorithm by leveraging the only existing fisheye dataset with optical flow ground truth. While trained with synthetic data, the model demonstrates strong capabilities to generalize to real world fisheye data. The other challenge neglected by existing state-of-the-art algorithms is low light. We propose a novel, generic semi-supervised framework that significantly boosts performances of existing methods in such conditions. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first approach that explicitly handles optical flow estimation in low light.
Bird's-eye-view (BEV) grid is a common representation for the perception of road components, e.g., drivable area, in autonomous driving. Most existing approaches rely on cameras only to perform segmentation in BEV space, which is fundamentally constrained by the absence of reliable depth information. Latest works leverage both camera and LiDAR modalities, but sub-optimally fuse their features using simple, concatenation-based mechanisms. In this paper, we address these problems by enhancing the alignment of the unimodal features in order to aid feature fusion, as well as enhancing the alignment between the cameras' perspective view (PV) and BEV representations. We propose X-Align, a novel end-to-end cross-modal and cross-view learning framework for BEV segmentation consisting of the following components: (i) a novel Cross-Modal Feature Alignment (X-FA) loss, (ii) an attention-based Cross-Modal Feature Fusion (X-FF) module to align multi-modal BEV features implicitly, and (iii) an auxiliary PV segmentation branch with Cross-View Segmentation Alignment (X-SA) losses to improve the PV-to-BEV transformation. We evaluate our proposed method across two commonly used benchmark datasets, i.e., nuScenes and KITTI-360. Notably, X-Align significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art by 3 absolute mIoU points on nuScenes. We also provide extensive ablation studies to demonstrate the effectiveness of the individual components.
Object detection is a comprehensively studied problem in autonomous driving. However, it has been relatively less explored in the case of fisheye cameras. The strong radial distortion breaks the translation invariance inductive bias of Convolutional Neural Networks. Thus, we present the WoodScape fisheye object detection challenge for autonomous driving which was held as part of the CVPR 2022 Workshop on Omnidirectional Computer Vision (OmniCV). This is one of the first competitions focused on fisheye camera object detection. We encouraged the participants to design models which work natively on fisheye images without rectification. We used CodaLab to host the competition based on the publicly available WoodScape fisheye dataset. In this paper, we provide a detailed analysis on the competition which attracted the participation of 120 global teams and a total of 1492 submissions. We briefly discuss the details of the winning methods and analyze their qualitative and quantitative results.
Modern object detection architectures are moving towards employing self-supervised learning (SSL) to improve performance detection with related pretext tasks. Pretext tasks for monocular 3D object detection have not yet been explored yet in literature. The paper studies the application of established self-supervised bounding box recycling by labeling random windows as the pretext task. The classifier head of the 3D detector is trained to classify random windows containing different proportions of the ground truth objects, thus handling the foreground-background imbalance. We evaluate the pretext task using the RTM3D detection model as baseline, with and without the application of data augmentation. We demonstrate improvements of between 2-3 % in mAP 3D and 0.9-1.5 % BEV scores using SSL over the baseline scores. We propose the inverse class frequency re-weighted (ICFW) mAP score that highlights improvements in detection for low frequency classes in a class imbalanced dataset with long tails. We demonstrate improvements in ICFW both mAP 3D and BEV scores to take into account the class imbalance in the KITTI validation dataset. We see 4-5 % increase in ICFW metric with the pretext task.
Spiking Neural Networks are a recent and new neural network design approach that promises tremendous improvements in power efficiency, computation efficiency, and processing latency. They do so by using asynchronous spike-based data flow, event-based signal generation, processing, and modifying the neuron model to resemble biological neurons closely. While some initial works have shown significant initial evidence of applicability to common deep learning tasks, their applications in complex real-world tasks has been relatively low. In this work, we first illustrate the applicability of spiking neural networks to a complex deep learning task namely Lidar based 3D object detection for automated driving. Secondly, we make a step-by-step demonstration of simulating spiking behavior using a pre-trained convolutional neural network. We closely model essential aspects of spiking neural networks in simulation and achieve equivalent run-time and accuracy on a GPU. When the model is realized on a neuromorphic hardware, we expect to have significantly improved power efficiency.
Generating a detailed near-field perceptual model of the environment is an important and challenging problem in both self-driving vehicles and autonomous mobile robotics. A Bird Eye View (BEV) map, providing a panoptic representation, is a commonly used approach that provides a simplified 2D representation of the vehicle surroundings with accurate semantic level segmentation for many downstream tasks. Current state-of-the art approaches to generate BEV-maps employ a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) backbone to create feature-maps which are passed through a spatial transformer to project the derived features onto the BEV coordinate frame. In this paper, we evaluate the use of vision transformers (ViT) as a backbone architecture to generate BEV maps. Our network architecture, ViT-BEVSeg, employs standard vision transformers to generate a multi-scale representation of the input image. The resulting representation is then provided as an input to a spatial transformer decoder module which outputs segmentation maps in the BEV grid. We evaluate our approach on the nuScenes dataset demonstrating a considerable improvement in the performance relative to state-of-the-art approaches.