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Title: Estimating general motion and intensity from event cameras
Author: Bardow, Patrick Alexander
ISNI:       0000 0004 7969 9001
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2019
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Robotic vision algorithms have become widely used in many consumer products which enabled technologies such as autonomous vehicles, drones, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) devices to name a few. These applications require vision algorithms to work in real-world environments with extreme lighting variations and fast moving objects. However, robotic vision applications rely often on standard video cameras which face severe limitations in fast-moving scenes or by bright light sources which diminish the image quality with artefacts like motion blur or over-saturation. To address these limitations, the body of work presented here investigates the use of alternative sensor devices which mimic the superior perception properties of human vision. Such silicon retinas were proposed by neuromorphic engineering, and we focus here on one such biologically inspired sensor called the event camera which offers a new camera paradigm for real-time robotic vision. The camera provides a high measurement rate, low latency, high dynamic range, and low data rate. The signal of the camera is composed of a stream of asynchronous events at microsecond resolution. Each event indicates when individual pixels registers a logarithmic intensity changes of a pre-set threshold size. Using this novel signal has proven to be very challenging in most computer vision problems since common vision methods require synchronous absolute intensity information. In this thesis, we present for the first time a method to reconstruct an image and es- timation motion from an event stream without additional sensing or prior knowledge of the scene. This method is based on coupled estimations of both motion and intensity which enables our event-based analysis, which was previously only possible with severe limitations. We also present the first machine learning algorithm for event-based unsu- pervised intensity reconstruction which does not depend on an explicit motion estimation and reveals finer image details. This learning approach does not rely on event-to-image examples, but learns from standard camera image examples which are not coupled to the event data. In experiments we show that the learned reconstruction improves upon our handcrafted approach. Finally, we combine our learned approach with motion estima- tion methods and show the improved intensity reconstruction also significantly improves the motion estimation results. We hope our work in this thesis bridges the gap between the event signal and images and that it opens event cameras to practical solutions to overcome the current limitations of frame-based cameras in robotic vision.
Supervisor: Davison, Andrew ; Leutenegger, Stefan Sponsor: James Dyson Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral