Small obstacle detection using stereo vision for autonomous ground vehicle

Krishnam Gupta1    Sarthak Upadhyay1    Vineet Gandhi1    K. Madhava Krishna1   

1 IIIT Hyderabad, India   

Small and medium sized obstacles such as rocks, small boulders, bricks left unattended on the road can pose hazards for autonomous as well as human driving situations. Many times these objects are too small on the road and go unnoticed on depth and point cloud maps obtained from state of the art range sensors such as 3D LIDAR. We propose a novel algorithm that fuses both appearance and 3D cues such as image gradients, curvature potentials and depth variance into a Markov Random Field (MRF) formulation that segments the scene into obstacle and non obstacle regions. Appearance and depth data obtained from a ZED stereo pair mounted on a Husky robot is used for this purpose. While identifying true positive obstacles such as rocks, large stones accurately our algorithm is simultaneously robust to false positive sources such as appearance changes on the road, papers and road markings. High accuracy detection in challenging scenes such as when the foreground obstacle blends with the background road scene vindicates the efficacy of the proposed formulation.