Forget About the LiDAR: Self-Supervised Depth Estimators with MED Probability Volumes

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 pre-proceedings (NeurIPS 2020)

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Juan Luis GonzalezBello, Munchurl Kim


Self-supervised depth estimators have recently shown results comparable to the supervised methods on the challenging single image depth estimation (SIDE) task, by exploiting the geometrical relations between target and reference views in the training data. However, previous methods usually learn forward or backward image synthesis, but not depth estimation, as they cannot effectively neglect occlusions between the target and the reference images. Previous works rely on rigid photometric assumptions or on the SIDE network to infer depth and occlusions, resulting in limited performance. On the other hand, we propose a method to "Forget About the LiDAR" (FAL), with Mirrored Exponential Disparity (MED) probability volumes for the training of monocular depth estimators from stereo images. Our MED representation allows us to obtain geometrically inspired occlusion maps with our novel Mirrored Occlusion Module (MOM), which does not impose a learning burden on our FAL-net. Contrary to the previous methods that learn SIDE from stereo pairs by regressing disparity in the linear space, our FAL-net regresses disparity by binning it into the exponential space, which allows for better detection of distant and nearby objects. We define a two-step training strategy for our FAL-net: It is first trained for view synthesis and then fine-tuned for depth estimation with our MOM. Our FAL-net is remarkably light-weight and outperforms the previous state-of-the-art methods with 8$\times$ fewer parameters and 3$\times$ faster inference speeds on the challenging KITTI dataset. We present extensive experimental results on the KITTI, CityScapes, and Make3D datasets to verify our method's effectiveness. To the authors' best knowledge, the presented method performs the best among all the previous self-supervised methods until now.