Object Detection Considerations for Autonomous Vehicles (OEDR -- part 1)

Object and Event Detection and Recognition (OEDR) involves having an autonomous vehicle detect and classify various types of objects so that it can plan a response. Detection is only the first step; you need to also be able to classify the obstacle to predict what might happen next. Pedestrians tend to walk into the roadway. Bushes, not so much. Did you think of all of these aspects?

Q: Why did the Mr. Rogers-saurus cross the street?
A: Trick question; he doesn't actually move because he is part of the Pittsburgh Dinosaur Parade.

Some factors to consider when deciding what objects your system needs to detect and recognize include:
  • Ability to detect and identify (e.g. classify) all relevant objects in the environment.
  • Processing and thresholding of sensor data to avoid both false positives (e.g., bouncing drink can, steel bridge joint, steel road construction cover plate, roadside sign, dust cloud, falling leaves) and false negatives (e.g., highly publicized partially automated vehicle collisions with stationary vehicles)
  • Characterizing the likely operational parameters of other road users (e.g., braking capability of leading and following vehicle, or whether another vehicle is behaving erratically enough that there is a likely control fault.)
  • Permanent obstacles such as structures, curbs, median dividers, guard rails, trees, bridges, tunnels, berms, ditches, roadside and overhanging signage.
  • Temporary obstacles such as transient keep-out zones, spills, floods, water-filled potholes, landslides, washed out bridges, overhanging vegetation, and downed power lines. (For practical purposes, “temporary” might mean obstacles not included on maps, with some vehicle having to be the first vehicle to detect an obstacle for placement even on a dynamic map.)
  • People, including cooperative people, uncooperative people, malicious behaviors, and people who are unaware of the operation of the autonomous system.
  • At-risk populations which might be unable, incapable, or exempt from following established rules and norms, such as children as well as injured, ability-impaired, or under-the-influence people.
  • Other cooperative and uncooperative human-driven and autonomous vehicles.
  • Other road users including special purpose vehicles, temporary structures, street dining, street festivals, parades, motorcades, funeral processions, farm equipment, construction crews, draft animals, farm animals, and endangered species.
  • Other non-stationary objects including uncontrolled moving objects, falling objects, wind-blown objects, in-traffic cargo spills, and low-flying aircraft.
Is there anything we missed?   (Next post will have the "events" part of OEDR.)

(This is an excerpt of Koopman, P. & Fratrik, F., "How many operational design domains, objects, and events?" SafeAI 2019, AAAI, Jan 27, 2019.)


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