Tracking by Associating Clips
"The tracking-by-detection paradigm today has become the dominant method for multi-object tracking and works by detecting objects in each frame and then performing data association across frames. However, its sequential frame-wise matching property fundamentally suffers from the intermediate interruptions in a video, such as object occlusions, fast camera movements, and abrupt light changes. Moreover, it typically overlooks temporal information beyond the two frames for matching. In this paper, we investigate an alternative by treating object association as clip-wise matching. Our new perspective views a single long video sequence as multiple short clips, and then the tracking is performed both within and between the clips. The benefits of this new approach are two folds. First, our method is robust to tracking error accumulation or propagation, as the video chunking allows bypassing the interrupted frames, and the short clip tracking avoids the conventional error-prone long-term track memory management. Second, the multiple frame information is aggregated during the clip-wise matching, resulting in a more accurate long-range track association than the current frame-wise matching. Given the state-of-the-art tracking-by-detection tracker, QDTrack, we showcase how the tracking performance improves with our new tracking formulation. In addition, we designed a novel Transformer-based clip tracker tailored for the effective inter-clip association. We evaluate our proposals on two tracking benchmarks, TAO and MOT17 that have complementary characteristics and challenges each other. Our new tracking formulation greatly improves association quality, leading to a new state-of-the-art in TAO."