To the Point: Efficient 3D Object Detection in the Range Image with Graph Convolution Kernels

3D object detection is vital for many robotics applications. For tasks where a 2D perspective range image exists, we propose to learn a 3D representation directly from this range image view. To this end, we designed a 2D convolutional network architecture that carries the 3D spherical coordinates of each pixel throughout the network. Its layers can consume any arbitrary convolution kernel in place of the default inner product kernel and exploit the underlying local geometry around each pixel. We outline four such kernels: a dense kernel according to the bag-of-words paradigm, and three graph kernels inspired by recent graph neural network advances: the Transformer, the PointNet, and the Edge Convolution. We also explore cross-modality fusion with the camera image, facilitated by operating in the perspective range image view. Our method performs competitively on the Waymo Open Dataset and improves the state-of-the-art AP for pedestrian detection from 69.7% to 75.5%. It is also efficient in that our smallest model, which still outperforms the popular PointPillars in quality, requires 180 times fewer FLOPS and model parameters

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