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Vehicle Detection Project

The goals / steps of this project are the following:

  • Perform a Histogram of Oriented Gradients (HOG) feature extraction on a labeled training set of images and train a classifier Linear SVM classifier
  • Optionally, you can also apply a color transform and append binned color features, as well as histograms of color, to your HOG feature vector.
  • Note: for those first two steps don't forget to normalize your features and randomize a selection for training and testing.
  • Implement a sliding-window technique and use your trained classifier to search for vehicles in images.
  • Run your pipeline on a video stream (start with the test_video.mp4 and later implement on full project_video.mp4) and create a heat map of recurring detections frame by frame to reject outliers and follow detected vehicles.
  • Estimate a bounding box for vehicles detected.

Rubric Points

Here I will consider the rubric points individually and describe how I addressed each point in my implementation.

Writeup / README

1. Provide a Writeup / README that includes all the rubric points and how you addressed each one.

You're reading it!

Histogram of Oriented Gradients (HOG)

1. Explain how (and identify where in your code) you extracted HOG features from the training images.

The code for this step is contained in the sections 1.1 Initialize images and labels and 1.2 Extract image features of the IPython notebook.

I started by loading all the vehicle and non-vehicle images and splitting them in a training and a test set. I split the data for vehicle images manually based on the filename (alphabetically) to prevent overfitting. Typically there are several almost identical images in an alphabetical row in the folders. A randomized split therefore would result in similar images in the training and test set, which would result in overfitting. Here is an example of one image from the vehicle and one image from the non-vehicle class:

alt text

After loading the images I extracted their features. I explored different color spaces and different skimage.hog() parameters (orientations, pixels_per_cell, and cells_per_block). I grabbed random images from each of the two classes and displayed them to get a feeling for what the skimage.hog() output looks like.

Eventually, I found the YCrCb color space and HOG parameters of orientations=6, pixels_per_cell=(8, 8) and cells_per_block=(2, 2)to work best on my pipeline. Here is a visualized example of hog features based on my customization:

alt text

Beyond the hog features, I added color features as it significantly improved the performance of my classifier (section 1.2 Extract image features first code box).

2. Explain how you settled on your final choice of HOG parameters.

I initially tried some combinations of parameters. When I had a working model with sufficient results I continued to implement my pipeline. Afterwards I returned and fine-tuned the parameters coming up with the parameters described in the previous section. For efficiency purposes I furthermore scaled down the classifier images to (24,24) (section 1.2 Extract image features first code box).

3. Describe how (and identify where in your code) you trained a classifier using your selected HOG features (and color features if you used them).

Before training my classifier I applied StandardScaler() to standardize my combined hog and color features in section 1.3 Scale training and testing data. In section 1.4 Fit and test classifier (SVM) I trained a linear SVM by applying LinearSVC() on the training data.

Sliding Window Search

1. Describe how (and identify where in your code) you implemented a sliding window search. How did you decide what scales to search and how much to overlap windows?

I realized that cars in certain image areas and therefore distance have very specific sizes. In section 2.1 Define windows I created get_window_positions() and generate_windows() which enable a flexibel choice of sizes and densities of windows in different regions of the input image. In the third code cell of the section I defined all the windows I used in my pipeline, which I identified in an experimental approach. Here are all my final 7 search regions on an example image:

alt text

Combining all search image regions results in the following windows in the example image:

alt text

2. Show some examples of test images to demonstrate how your pipeline is working. What did you do to optimize the performance of your classifier?

I optimized the performance of the classifier as described in the previous answers.

Here are the identified windows in the example images as extracted in section 2.2 Get features and predictions for windows:

alt text

In section 2.3 Get image heatmap and return window I created the functions get_activated_windows(), add_heat() and apply_threshold() in order to draw heatmaps. The heatmaps get activated by incrementing the pixels, which are in an activated window, by 1. The resulting heatmats for the example images look like this:

alt text

In section 2.4 Create labeled windows I enhanced my pipeline by making it possible to plot boxes around the cars. Based on the heatmap images one can use the get_label() function, which uses scipy.ndimage.measurements.label(), to create a labeled version of the activated fields. Visualized on our test images it looks like this:

alt text

Eventually I defined the function draw_labeled_windows() in order to draw boxes around the identified areas based on the labels. On our example images the output of draw_labeled_windows() looks like this:

alt text

Video Implementation

1. Provide a link to your final video output.

Here's a link to my video result

2. Describe how (and identify where in your code) you implemented some kind of filter for false positives and some method for combining overlapping bounding boxes.

In section 3.1 Define class to store previous image values I defined a class to store the window positions of positive detections in the last frames of the video.

In 3.2 Define function to apply processing pipeline on image the whole pipeline described in the previous section of this report is implemented. In addition it stores the 10 previously identified windows in the Windows() class instance window_tracker. For the generation of the heatmap all windows identified in the last 10 images are used to increment the heatmap. After a threshold of 15 is applied on the heatmap, the labels and boxes are generated.


1. Briefly discuss any problems / issues you faced in your implementation of this project. Where will your pipeline likely fail? What could you do to make it more robust?

Strongest issues I faced:

  • Identification of search windows
    • Initially I implemented a function which generated different image sizes based on the y-level of the image
    • However, I realized that cars on the left and the right require very different window sizes (wider) than the ones in the middle
    • As a consequence, I implemented my current approach.
  • Classifier overfitting
    • Initially I used sklearn.model_selection.train_test_split().
    • However, I realized that randomization does not work well for the vehicle images, as there are several similar images right after each other
    • Therefore I splitted the vehicle images based on the position in the folder
  • Rescaling of images correctly between cv2 and matplotlib-functions
    • Eventually I immediatly rescaled cv2 functions to values between 0 and 1 as matplotlib does for png-images

When is my pipeline likely to fail (and what one could do about it):

  • In different light/wheater conditions
    • Detect light/weather condition
    • Provide customized classifiers for each light/wheather
  • In non-flat terrains
    • Implement terrain detection
    • Adjust window frames for search dynamically based on current terrain
  • In case of strong traffic on a counter lane right next to the car
    • Combine vehicle detection with lane detection
    • Only detect cars on lanes, where they are suppose to be
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