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Self-Driving Cars That Recognize Free Space Can Better Detect Objects

By Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science

June 12, 2020

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Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) researchers have developed a method to help self-driving vehicles enhance their object-detection accuracy by enabling them to recognize empty space.

CMU's Peiyun Hu said autonomous cars usually reason about surrounding objects by using three-dimensional (3D) LiDAR data to represent objects as a point cloud, and then trying to match those point clouds to a library of 3D object representations.

However, sensors cannot perceive occluded parts of an object, and current algorithms do not reason about such occlusions.

Hu and colleagues used map-making techniques to help the perception system reason about visibility when attempting to recognize objects—and it outperformed a standard benchmark, improving detection by 10.7% for cars, 5.3% for pedestrians, 7.4% for trucks, 18.4% for buses, and 16.7% for trailers.

Said Hu, “Perception systems need to know their unknowns.”

From Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science

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