Event-based Asynchronous Sparse Convolutional Networks
Nico Messikommer, Daniel Gehrig, Antonio Loquercio, Davide Scaramuzza
Event cameras are bio-inspired sensors that respond to per-pixel brightness changes in the form of asynchronous and sparse “events”. Recently, pattern recognition algorithms, such as learning-based methods, have made significant progress with event cameras by converting events into synchronous dense, image-like representations and applying traditional machine learning methods developed for standard cameras. However, these approaches discard the spatial and temporal sparsity inherent in event data at the cost of higher computational complexity and latency. In this work, we present a general framework for converting models trained on synchronous image-like event representations into asynchronous models with identical output, thus directly leveraging the intrinsic asynchronous and sparse nature of the event data. We show both theoretically and experimentally that this drastically reduces the computational complexity and latency of high-capacity, synchronous neural networks without sacrificing accuracy. In addition, our framework has several desirable characteristics: (i) it exploits spatial and temporal sparsity in the event data explicitly, (ii) it is agnostic to the event representation, network architecture, and task, and (iii) it does not require any train-time change, since it is compatible with the standard neural net-works’ training process. We thoroughly validate the proposed framework on two computer vision tasks: object detection and object recognition. In these tasks, we reduce the computational complexity up to 20 times with respect to high-latency neural networks. At the same time, we outperform state-of-the-art asynchronous approaches up to 24.5% in prediction accuracy."