3D Visual Perception for Self-Driving Cars using a Multi-Camera System: Calibration, Mapping, Localization, and Obstacle Detection

Cameras are a crucial exteroceptive sensor for self-driving cars as they are low-cost and small, provide appearance information about the environment, and work in various weather conditions. They can be used for multiple purposes such as visual navigation and obstacle detection. We can use a surround multi-camera system to cover the full 360-degree field-of-view around the car. In this way, we avoid blind spots which can otherwise lead to accidents. To minimize the number of cameras needed for surround perception, we utilize fisheye cameras. Consequently, standard vision pipelines for 3D mapping, visual localization, obstacle detection, etc. need to be adapted to take full advantage of the availability of multiple cameras rather than treat each camera individually. In addition, processing of fisheye images has to be supported. In this paper, we describe the camera calibration and subsequent processing pipeline for multi-fisheye-camera systems developed as part of the V-Charge project. This project seeks to enable automated valet parking for self-driving cars. Our pipeline is able to precisely calibrate multi-camera systems, build sparse 3D maps for visual navigation, visually localize the car with respect to these maps, generate accurate dense maps, as well as detect obstacles based on real-time depth map extraction.

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