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An Empirical Study of the Generalization Ability of Lidar 3D Object Detectors to Unseen Domains

George Eskandar

Arch 4A-E Poster #417
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Fri 21 Jun 10:30 a.m. PDT — noon PDT


3D Object Detectors (3D-OD) are crucial for understanding the environment in many robotic tasks, especially autonomous driving. Including 3D information via Lidar sensors improves accuracy greatly. However, such detectors perform poorly on domains they were not trained on, i.e. different locations, sensors, weather, etc., limiting their reliability in safety-critical applications. There exist methods to adapt 3D-ODs to these domains; however, these methods treat 3D-ODs as a black box, neglecting underlying architectural decisions and source-domain training strategies. Instead, we dive deep into the details of 3D-ODs, focusing our efforts on fundamental factors that influence robustness prior to domain adaptation.We systematically investigate four design choices (and the interplay between them) often overlooked in 3D-OD robustness and domain adaptation: architecture, voxel encoding, data augmentations, and anchor strategies. We assess their impact on the robustness of nine state-of-the-art 3D-ODs across six benchmarks encompassing three types of domain gaps - sensor type, weather, and location.Our main findings are: (1) transformer backbones with local point features are more robust than 3D CNNs, (2) test-time anchor size adjustment is crucial for adaptation across geographical locations, significantly boosting scores without retraining, (3) source-domain augmentations allow the model to generalize to low-resolution sensors, and (4) surprisingly, robustness to bad weather is improved when training directly on more clean weather data than on training with bad weather data. We outline our main conclusions and findings to provide practical guidance on developing more robust 3D-ODs.

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