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"autonomous cars": models, code, and papers

Object Tracking by Detection with Visual and Motion Cues

Jan 19, 2021
Niels Ole Salscheider

Self-driving cars and other autonomous vehicles need to detect and track objects in camera images. We present a simple online tracking algorithm that is based on a constant velocity motion model with a Kalman filter, and an assignment heuristic. The assignment heuristic relies on four metrics: An embedding vector that describes the appearance of objects and can be used to re-identify them, a displacement vector that describes the object movement between two consecutive video frames, the Mahalanobis distance between the Kalman filter states and the new detections, and a class distance. These metrics are combined with a linear SVM, and then the assignment problem is solved by the Hungarian algorithm. We also propose an efficient CNN architecture that estimates these metrics. Our multi-frame model accepts two consecutive video frames which are processed individually in the backbone, and then optical flow is estimated on the resulting feature maps. This allows the network heads to estimate the displacement vectors. We evaluate our approach on the challenging BDD100K tracking dataset. Our multi-frame model achieves a good MOTA value of 39.1% with low localization error of 0.206 in MOTP. Our fast single-frame model achieves an even lower localization error of 0.202 in MOTP, and a MOTA value of 36.8%.


Evaluating Explanation Without Ground Truth in Interpretable Machine Learning

Jul 16, 2019
Fan Yang, Mengnan Du, Xia Hu

Interpretable Machine Learning (IML) has become increasingly important in many applications, such as autonomous cars and medical diagnosis, where explanations are preferred to help people better understand how machine learning systems work and further enhance their trust towards systems. Particularly in robotics, explanations from IML are significantly helpful in providing reasons for those adverse and inscrutable actions, which could impair the safety and profit of the public. However, due to the diversified scenarios and subjective nature of explanations, we rarely have the ground truth for benchmark evaluation in IML on the quality of generated explanations. Having a sense of explanation quality not only matters for quantifying system boundaries, but also helps to realize the true benefits to human users in real-world applications. To benchmark evaluation in IML, in this paper, we rigorously define the problem of evaluating explanations, and systematically review the existing efforts. Specifically, we summarize three general aspects of explanation (i.e., predictability, fidelity and persuasibility) with formal definitions, and respectively review the representative methodologies for each of them under different tasks. Further, a unified evaluation framework is designed according to the hierarchical needs from developers and end-users, which could be easily adopted for different scenarios in practice. In the end, open problems are discussed, and several limitations of current evaluation techniques are raised for future explorations.


A Curriculum Domain Adaptation Approach to the Semantic Segmentation of Urban Scenes

Jan 10, 2019
Yang Zhang, Philip David, Hassan Foroosh, Boqing Gong

During the last half decade, convolutional neural networks (CNNs) have triumphed over semantic segmentation, which is one of the core tasks in many applications such as autonomous driving and augmented reality. However, to train CNNs requires a considerable amount of data, which is difficult to collect and laborious to annotate. Recent advances in computer graphics make it possible to train CNNs on photo-realistic synthetic imagery with computer-generated annotations. Despite this, the domain mismatch between the real images and the synthetic data hinders the models' performance. Hence, we propose a curriculum-style learning approach to minimizing the domain gap in urban scene semantic segmentation. The curriculum domain adaptation solves easy tasks first to infer necessary properties about the target domain; in particular, the first task is to learn global label distributions over images and local distributions over landmark superpixels. These are easy to estimate because images of urban scenes have strong idiosyncrasies (e.g., the size and spatial relations of buildings, streets, cars, etc.). We then train a segmentation network, while regularizing its predictions in the target domain to follow those inferred properties. In experiments, our method outperforms the baselines on two datasets and two backbone networks. We also report extensive ablation studies about our approach.

* This is the journal version of arXiv:1707.09465 

UrbanScene3D: A Large Scale Urban Scene Dataset and Simulator

Jul 09, 2021
Yilin Liu, Fuyou Xue, Hui Huang

The ability to perceive the environments in different ways is essential to robotic research. This involves the analysis of both 2D and 3D data sources. We present a large scale urban scene dataset associated with a handy simulator based on Unreal Engine 4 and AirSim, which consists of both man-made and real-world reconstruction scenes in different scales, referred to as UrbanScene3D. Unlike previous works that purely based on 2D information or man-made 3D CAD models, UrbanScene3D contains both compact man-made models and detailed real-world models reconstructed by aerial images. Each building has been manually extracted from the entire scene model and then has been assigned with a unique label, forming an instance segmentation map. The provided 3D ground-truth textured models with instance segmentation labels in UrbanScene3D allow users to obtain all kinds of data they would like to have: instance segmentation map, depth map in arbitrary resolution, 3D point cloud/mesh in both visible and invisible places, etc. In addition, with the help of AirSim, users can also simulate the robots (cars/drones)to test a variety of autonomous tasks in the proposed city environment. Please refer to our paper and website( for further details and applications.

* Project page: 

Detection and Classification of Industrial Signal Lights for Factory Floors

May 28, 2020
Felix Nilsson, Jens Jakobsen, Fernando Alonso-Fernandez

Industrial manufacturing has developed during the last decades from a labor-intensive manual control of machines to a fully-connected automated process. The next big leap is known as industry 4.0, or smart manufacturing. With industry 4.0 comes increased integration between IT systems and the factory floor from the customer order system to final delivery of the product. One benefit of this integration is mass production of individually customized products. However, this has proven challenging to implement into existing factories, considering that their lifetime can be up to 30 years. The single most important parameter to measure in a factory is the operating hours of each machine. Operating hours can be affected by machine maintenance as well as re-configuration for different products. For older machines without connectivity, the operating state is typically indicated by signal lights of green, yellow and red colours. Accordingly, the goal is to develop a solution which can measure the operational state using the input from a video camera capturing a factory floor. Using methods commonly employed for traffic light recognition in autonomous cars, a system with an accuracy of over 99% in the specified conditions is presented. It is believed that if more diverse video data becomes available, a system with high reliability that generalizes well could be developed using a similar methodology.

* Published at Proc International Conference on Intelligent Systems and Computer Vision, ISCV, Fez, Morocco, 9-11 June 2020 

Robust Semantic Segmentation in Adverse Weather Conditions by means of Sensor Data Fusion

May 24, 2019
Andreas Pfeuffer, Klaus Dietmayer

A robust and reliable semantic segmentation in adverse weather conditions is very important for autonomous cars, but most state-of-the-art approaches only achieve high accuracy rates in optimal weather conditions. The reason is that they are only optimized for good weather conditions and given noise models. However, most of them fail, if data with unknown disturbances occur, and their performance decrease enormously. One possibility to still obtain reliable results is to observe the environment with different sensor types, such as camera and lidar, and to fuse the sensor data by means of neural networks, since different sensors behave differently in diverse weather conditions. Hence, the sensors can complement each other by means of an appropriate sensor data fusion. Nevertheless, the fusion-based approaches are still susceptible to disturbances and fail to classify disturbed image areas correctly. This problem can be solved by means of a special training method, the so called Robust Learning Method (RLM), a method by which the neural network learns to handle unknown noise. In this work, two different sensor fusion architectures for semantic segmentation are compared and evaluated on several datasets. Furthermore, it is shown that the RLM increases the robustness in adverse weather conditions enormously, and achieve good results although no disturbance model has been learned by the neural network.

* 22st International Conference on Information Fusion (FUSION) (2019) 

Real-Time Spatio-Temporal LiDAR Point Cloud Compression

Aug 16, 2020
Yu Feng, Shaoshan Liu, Yuhao Zhu

Compressing massive LiDAR point clouds in real-time is critical to autonomous machines such as drones and self-driving cars. While most of the recent prior work has focused on compressing individual point cloud frames, this paper proposes a novel system that effectively compresses a sequence of point clouds. The idea to exploit both the spatial and temporal redundancies in a sequence of point cloud frames. We first identify a key frame in a point cloud sequence and spatially encode the key frame by iterative plane fitting. We then exploit the fact that consecutive point clouds have large overlaps in the physical space, and thus spatially encoded data can be (re-)used to encode the temporal stream. Temporal encoding by reusing spatial encoding data not only improves the compression rate, but also avoids redundant computations, which significantly improves the compression speed. Experiments show that our compression system achieves 40x to 90x compression rate, significantly higher than the MPEG's LiDAR point cloud compression standard, while retaining high end-to-end application accuracies. Meanwhile, our compression system has a compression speed that matches the point cloud generation rate by today LiDARs and out-performs existing compression systems, enabling real-time point cloud transmission.

* 2020 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) 

M4Depth: A motion-based approach for monocular depth estimation on video sequences

May 21, 2021
Michaël Fonder, Damien Ernst, Marc Van Droogenbroeck

Getting the distance to objects is crucial for autonomous vehicles. In instances where depth sensors cannot be used, this distance has to be estimated from RGB cameras. As opposed to cars, the task of estimating depth from on-board mounted cameras is made complex on drones because of the lack of constrains on motion during flights. In this paper, we present a method to estimate the distance of objects seen by an on-board mounted camera by using its RGB video stream and drone motion information. Our method is built upon a pyramidal convolutional neural network architecture and uses time recurrence in pair with geometric constraints imposed by motion to produce pixel-wise depth maps. In our architecture, each level of the pyramid is designed to produce its own depth estimate based on past observations and information provided by the previous level in the pyramid. We introduce a spatial reprojection layer to maintain the spatio-temporal consistency of the data between the levels. We analyse the performance of our approach on Mid-Air, a public drone dataset featuring synthetic drone trajectories recorded in a wide variety of unstructured outdoor environments. Our experiments show that our network outperforms state-of-the-art depth estimation methods and that the use of motion information is the main contributing factor for this improvement. The code of our method is publicly available on GitHub; see

* Main paper: 8 pages + references, Appendix: 2 pages 

Scale-, shift- and rotation-invariant diffractive optical networks

Oct 24, 2020
Deniz Mengu, Yair Rivenson, Aydogan Ozcan

Recent research efforts in optical computing have gravitated towards developing optical neural networks that aim to benefit from the processing speed and parallelism of optics/photonics in machine learning applications. Among these endeavors, Diffractive Deep Neural Networks (D2NNs) harness light-matter interaction over a series of trainable surfaces, designed using deep learning, to compute a desired statistical inference task as the light waves propagate from the input plane to the output field-of-view. Although, earlier studies have demonstrated the generalization capability of diffractive optical networks to unseen data, achieving e.g., >98% image classification accuracy for handwritten digits, these previous designs are in general sensitive to the spatial scaling, translation and rotation of the input objects. Here, we demonstrate a new training strategy for diffractive networks that introduces input object translation, rotation and/or scaling during the training phase as uniformly distributed random variables to build resilience in their blind inference performance against such object transformations. This training strategy successfully guides the evolution of the diffractive optical network design towards a solution that is scale-, shift- and rotation-invariant, which is especially important and useful for dynamic machine vision applications in e.g., autonomous cars, in-vivo imaging of biomedical specimen, among others.

* 28 Pages, 6 Figures, 1 Table