Active Vision

at PRG Lab

Our goal is to develop a micro-quadrotor that can fly autonomously with on-board computation and sensing using only cameras and IMU. The algorithms developed for navigation are active, task driven and mimic the methodologies utilized by insects and birds. The general concept of Active Vision is to move in such a way to make the perception problem easier. We work on designing both these “movement” and “perception” algorithms.


Yiannis Aloimonos

Cornelia Fermuller
Research Scientist

Nitin J.
Ph.D. Student

Chahat Deep Singh
Ph.D. Student

Recent Research

PRGFlow: Benchmarking SWAP-Aware Unified Deep Visual Inertial Odometry

Odometry on aerial robots has to be of low latency and high robustness whilst also respecting the Size, Weight, Area and Power (SWAP) constraints as demanded by the size of the robot. A combination of visual sensors coupled with Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs) has proven to be the best combination to obtain robust and low latency odometry on resource-constrained aerial robots. Recently, deep learning approaches for Visual Inertial fusion have gained momentum due to their high accuracy and robustness. However, the remarkable advantages of these techniques are their inherent scalability (adaptation to different sized aerial robots) and unification (same method works on different sized aerial robots) by utilizing compression methods and hardware acceleration, which have been lacking from previous approaches. We present a deep learning approach for visual translation estimation and loosely fuse it with an Inertial sensor for full 6DoF odometry estimation. We also present a detailed benchmark comparing different architectures, loss functions and compression methods to enable scalability. We evaluate our network on the MSCOCO dataset and evaluate the VI fusion on multiple real-flight trajectories.


EVDodgeNet: Deep Dynamic Obstacle Dodging with Event Cameras

Dynamic obstacle avoidance on quadrotors requires low latency. A class of sensors that are particularly suitable for such scenarios are event cameras. In this paper, we present a deep learning based solution for dodging multiple dynamic obstacles on a quadrotor with a single event camera and onboard computation. Our approach uses a series of shallow neural networks for estimating both the ego-motion and the motion of independently moving objects. The networks are trained in simulation and directly transfer to the real world without any fine-tuning or retraining. We successfully evaluate and demonstrate the proposed approach in many real-world experiments with obstacles of different shapes and sizes, achieving an overall success rate of 70% including objects of unknown shape and a low light testing scenario. To our knowledge, this is the first deep learning based solution to the problem of dynamic obstacle avoidance using event cameras on a quadrotor. Finally, we also extend our work to the pursuit task by merely reversing the control policy, proving that our navigation stack can cater to different scenarios.

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GapFlyt: Active Vision Based Minimalist Structure-less Gap Detection For Quadrotor Flight

In this paper, we propose this framework of bio-inspired perceptual design for quadrotors. We use this philosophy to design a minimalist sensori-motor framework for a quadrotor to fly though unknown gaps without a 3D reconstruction of the scene using only a monocular camera and onboard sensing. We successfully evaluate and demonstrate the proposed approach in many real-world experiments with different settings and window shapes, achieving a success rate of 85% at 2.5m/s even with a minimum tolerance of just 5cm.

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SalientDSO: Bringing Attention to Direct Sparse Odometry

Although cluttered indoor scenes have a lot of useful high-level semantic information which can be used for mapping and localization, most Visual Odometry (VO) algorithms rely on the usage of geometric features such as points, lines and planes. Lately, driven by this idea, the joint optimization of semantic labels and obtaining odometry has gained popularity in the robotics community. The joint optimization is good for accurate results but is generally very slow. At the same time, in the vision community, direct and sparse approaches for VO have stricken the right balance between speed and accuracy. We merge the successes of these two communities and present a way to incorporate semantic information in the form of visual saliency to Direct Sparse Odometry - a highly successful direct sparse VO algorithm. We also present a framework to filter the visual saliency based on scene parsing. Our framework, SalientDSO, relies on the widely successful deep learning based approaches for visual saliency and scene parsing which drives the feature selection for obtaining highly-accurate and robust VO even in the presence of as few as 40 point features per frame. We provide extensive quantitative evaluation of SalientDSO on the ICL-NUIM and TUM monoVO datasets and show that we outperform DSO and ORB-SLAM - two very popular state-of-the-art approaches in the literature. We also collect and publicly release a CVL-UMD dataset which contains two indoor cluttered sequences on which we show qualitative evaluations. To our knowledge this is the first paper to use visual saliency and scene parsing to drive the feature selection in direct VO.

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