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Point Cloud Compression: Impact on Object Detection in Outdoor Contexts

Garrote, L. G. ; Perdiz, J. P. ; Cruz, L. A. S. C. ; Nunes, U.

Sensors Vol. 22, Nº 15, pp. 5767 - 5767, August, 2022.

ISSN (print): 1424-3210
ISSN (online): 1424-8220

Scimago Journal Ranking: 0,76 (in 2022)

Digital Object Identifier: 10.3390/s22155767

Increasing demand for more reliable and safe autonomous driving means that data involved in the various aspects of perception, such as object detection, will become more granular as the number and resolution of sensors progress. Using these data for on-the-fly object detection causes problems related to the computational complexity of onboard processing in autonomous vehicles, leading to a desire to offload computation to roadside infrastructure using vehicle-to-infrastructure communication links. The need to transmit sensor data also arises in the context of vehicle fleets exchanging sensor data, over vehicle-to-vehicle communication links. Some types of sensor data modalities, such as Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) point clouds, are so voluminous that their transmission is impractical without data compression. With most emerging autonomous driving implementations being anchored on point cloud data, we propose to evaluate the impact of point cloud compression on object detection. To that end, two different object detection architectures are evaluated using point clouds from the KITTI object dataset: raw point clouds and point clouds compressed with a state-of-the-art encoder and three different compression levels. The analysis is extended to the impact of compression on depth maps generated from images projected from the point clouds, with two conversion methods tested. Results show that low-to-medium levels of compression do not have a major impact on object detection performance, especially for larger objects. Results also show that the impact of point cloud compression is lower when detecting objects using depth maps, placing this particular method of point cloud data representation on a competitive footing compared to raw point cloud data.