In order to fully integrate deep learning into robotics, it is important that deep learning systems can reliably estimate the uncertainty in their predictions. This would allow robots to treat a deep neural network like any other sensor, and use the established Bayesian techniques to fuse the network’s predictions with prior knowledge or other sensor measurements, or to accumulate information over time.

Deep learning systems, e.g. for classification or detection, typically return scores from their softmax layers that are proportional to the system’s confidence, but are not calibrated probabilities, and therefore not useable in a Bayesian sensor fusion framework.

Current approaches towards uncertainty estimation for deep learning are calibration techniques, or Bayesian deep learning with approximations such as Monte Carlo Dropout or ensemble methods.

Our work focusses on Bayesian Deep Learning approaches for the specific use case of object detection on a robot in open-set conditions.


  1. Class Anchor Clustering: A Loss for Distance-based Open Set Recognition Dimity Miller, Niko Sünderhauf, Michael Milford, Feras Dayoub. arXiv preprint arXiv:2004.02434, 2020. Existing open set classifiers distinguish between known and unknown inputs by measuring distance in a network’s logit space, assuming that known inputs cluster closer to the training data than unknown inputs. However, this approach is typically applied post-hoc to networks trained with cross-entropy loss, which neither guarantees nor encourages the hoped-for clustering behaviour. To overcome this limitation, we introduce Class Anchor Clustering (CAC) loss. CAC is an entirely distance-based loss that explicitly encourages training data to form tight clusters techniques on the challenging TinyImageNet dataset, achieving a 2.4% performance increase in AUROC. [arXiv]
  1. Probabilistic Object Detection: Definition and Evaluation David Hall, Feras Dayoub, John Skinner, Peter Corke, Gustavo Carneiro, Anelia Angelova, Niko Sünderhauf. In IEEE Winter Conference on Applications of Computer Vision (WACV), 2020. We introduce Probabilistic Object Detection, the task of detecting objects in images and accurately quantifying the spatial and semantic uncertainties of the detections. Given the lack of methods capable of assessing such probabilistic object detections, we present the new Probability-based Detection Quality measure (PDQ). Unlike AP-based measures, PDQ has no arbitrary thresholds and rewards spatial and label quality, and foreground/background separation quality while explicitly penalising false positive and false negative detections. [arXiv]
  1. A Probabilistic Challenge for Object Detection Niko Sünderhauf, Feras Dayoub, David Hall, John Skinner, Haoyang Zhang, Gustavo Carneiro, Peter Corke. Nature Machine Intelligence, 2019. To safely operate in the real world, robots need to evaluate how confident they are about what they see. A new competition challenges computer vision algorithms to not just detect and localize objects, but also report how certain they are. To this end, we introduce Probabilistic Object Detection, the task of detecting objects in images and accurately quantifying the spatial and semantic uncertainties of the detections.
    1. Benchmarking Sampling-based Probabilistic Object Detectors Dimity Miller, Niko Sünderhauf, Haoyang Zhang, David Hall, Feras Dayoub. In Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Workshops, 2019. This paper provides the first benchmark for sampling-based probabilistic object detectors. A probabilistic object detector expresses uncertainty for all detections that reliably indicates object localisation and classification performance. We compare performance for two sampling-based uncertainty techniques, namely Monte Carlo Dropout and Deep Ensembles, when implemented into one-stage and two-stage object detectors, Single Shot MultiBox Detector and Faster R-CNN.
    1. Evaluating Merging Strategies for Sampling-based Uncertainty Techniques in Object Detection Dimity Miller, Feras Dayoub, Michael Milford, Niko Sünderhauf. In Proc. of IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2019. There has been a recent emergence of sampling-based techniques for estimating epistemic uncertainty in deep neural networks. While these methods can be applied to classification or semantic segmentation tasks by simply averaging samples, this is not the case for object detection, where detection sample bounding boxes must be accurately associated and merged. A weak merging strategy can significantly degrade the performance of the detector and yield an unreliable uncertainty measure. This paper provides the first in-depth investigation of the effect of different association and merging strategies. We compare different combinations of three spatial and two semantic affinity measures with four clustering methods for MC Dropout with a Single Shot Multi-Box Detector. Our results show that the correct choice of affinity-clustering combinations can greatly improve the effectiveness of the classification and spatial uncertainty estimation and the resulting object detection performance. We base our evaluation on a new mix of datasets that emulate near open-set conditions (semantically similar unknown classes), distant open-set conditions (semantically dissimilar unknown classes) and the common closed-set conditions (only known classes). [arXiv]
    1. Did You Miss the Sign? A False Negative Alarm System for Traffic Sign Detectors Quazi Marufur Rahman, Niko Sünderhauf, Feras Dayoub. In Proc. of IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2019. In this paper, we propose an approach to identify traffic signs that have been mistakenly discarded by the object detector. The proposed method raises an alarm when it discovers a failure by the object detector to detect a traffic sign. This approach can be useful to evaluate the performance of the detector during the deployment phase. We trained a single shot multi-box object detector to detect traffic signs and used its internal features to train a separate false negative detector (FND). During deployment, FND decides whether the traffic sign detector has missed a sign or not. [arXiv]
    1. Dropout Sampling for Robust Object Detection in Open-Set Conditions Dimity Miller, Lachlan Nicholson, Feras Dayoub, Niko Sünderhauf. In Proc. of IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2018. Dropout Variational Inference, or Dropout Sampling, has been recently proposed as an approximation technique for Bayesian Deep Learning and evaluated for image classification and regression tasks. This paper investigates the utility of Dropout Sampling for object detection for the first time. We demonstrate how label uncertainty can be extracted from a state-of-the-art object detection system via Dropout Sampling. We show that this uncertainty can be utilized to increase object detection performance under the open-set conditions that are typically encountered in robotic vision. We evaluate this approach on a large synthetic dataset with 30,000 images, and a real-world dataset captured by a mobile robot in a versatile campus environment.
    1. Dropout Variational Inference Improves Object Detection in Open-Set Conditions Dimity Miller, Lachlan Nicholson, Feras Dayoub, Niko Sünderhauf. In Proc. of NIPS Workshop on Bayesian Deep Learning, 2017. One of the biggest current challenges of visual object detection is reliable operation in open-set conditions. One way to handle the open-set problem is to utilize the uncertainty of the model to reject predictions with low probability. Bayesian Neural Networks (BNNs), with variational inference commonly used as an approximation, is an established approach to estimate model uncertainty. Here we extend the concept of Dropout sampling to object detection for the first time. We evaluate Bayesian object detection on a large synthetic and a real-world dataset and show how the estimated label uncertainty can be utilized to increase object detection performance under open-set conditions.
    1. Episode-Based Active Learning with Bayesian Neural Networks Feras Dayoub, Niko Sünderhauf, Peter Corke. In Workshop on Deep Learning for Robotic Vision, Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), 2017. We investigate different strategies for active learning with Bayesian deep neural networks. We focus our analysis on scenarios where new, unlabeled data is obtained episodically, such as commonly encountered in mobile robotics applications. An evaluation of different strategies for acquisition, updating, and final training on the CIFAR-10 dataset shows that incremental network updates with final training on the accumulated acquisition set are essential for best performance, while limiting the amount of required human labeling labor.