Domain and Modality Gaps for LiDAR-based Person Detection on Mobile Robots

Dan Jia, Alexander Hermans, Bastian Leibe
arXiv preprint

Person detection is a crucial task for mobile robots navigating in human-populated environments and LiDAR sensors are promising for this task, given their accurate depth measurements and large field of view. This paper studies existing LiDAR-based person detectors with a particular focus on mobile robot scenarios (e.g. service robot or social robot), where persons are observed more frequently and in much closer ranges, compared to the driving scenarios. We conduct a series of experiments, using the recently released JackRabbot dataset and the state-of-the-art detectors based on 3D or 2D LiDAR sensors (CenterPoint and DR-SPAAM respectively). These experiments revolve around the domain gap between driving and mobile robot scenarios, as well as the modality gap between 3D and 2D LiDAR sensors. For the domain gap, we aim to understand if detectors pretrained on driving datasets can achieve good performance on the mobile robot scenarios, for which there are currently no trained models readily available. For the modality gap, we compare detectors that use 3D or 2D LiDAR, from various aspects, including performance, runtime, localization accuracy, robustness to range and crowdedness. The results from our experiments provide practical insights into LiDAR-based person detection and facilitate informed decisions for relevant mobile robot designs and applications.

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