Connecting the dots for real-time LiDAR-based object detection with YOLO

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Australasian Conference on Robotics and Automation, ACRA, 2018, 2018-December
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© 2018 Australasian Robotics and Automation Association. All rights reserved. In this paper we introduce a generic method for people and vehicle detection using LiDAR data only, leveraging a pre-trained Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) from the RGB domain. Typically with machine learning algorithms, there is an inherent trade-off between the amount of training data available and the need for engineered features. The current state-of-the-art object detection and classification heavily rely on deep CNNs trained on enormous RGB image datasets. To take advantage of this inbuilt knowledge, we propose to fine-tune You only look once (YOLO) network transferring its understanding about object shapes to upsampled LiDAR images. Our method creates a dense depth/intensity map, which highlights object contours, from the 3D-point cloud of a LiDAR scan. The proposed method is hardware agnostic, hence can be used with any LiDAR data, independently on the number of channels or beams. Overall, the proposed pipeline exploits the notable similarity between upsampled LiDAR images and RGB images preventing the need to train a deep CNN from scratch. This transfer learning makes our method data efficient while avoiding the creation of heavily engineered features. Evaluation results show that our proposed LiDAR-only detection model has equivalent performance to its RGB-only counterpart.
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