Dec 2, 2022
LiDAR sensors are an integral part of modern autonomous vehicles as they provide an accurate, high-resolution 3D representation of the vehicle's surroundings. However, it is computationally difficult to make use of the ever-increasing amounts of data from multiple high-resolution LiDAR sensors. As frame-rates, point cloud sizes and sensor resolutions increase, real-time processing of these point clouds must still extract semantics from this increasingly precise picture of the vehicle's environment. One deciding factor of the run-time performance and accuracy of deep neural networks operating on these point clouds is the underlying data representation and the way it is computed. In this work, we examine the relationship between the computational representations used in neural networks and their performance characteristics. To this end, we propose a novel computational taxonomy of LiDAR point cloud representations used in modern deep neural networks for 3D point cloud processing. Using this taxonomy, we perform a structured analysis of different families of approaches. Thereby, we uncover common advantages and limitations in terms of computational efficiency, memory requirements, and representational capacity as measured by semantic segmentation performance. Finally, we provide some insights and guidance for future developments in neural point cloud processing methods.
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