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Neural Auto-Exposure for High-Dynamic Range Object Detection
Real-world scenes have a dynamic range of up to 280 dB that today's imaging sensors cannot directly capture. Existing live vision pipelines tackle this fundamental challenge by relying on high dynamic range (HDR) sensors that try to recover HDR images from multiple captures with different exposures. While HDR sensors substantially increase the dynamic range, they are not without disadvantages, including severe artifacts for dynamic scenes, reduced fill-factor, lower resolution, and high sensor cost. At the same time, traditional auto-exposure methods for low-dynamic range sensors have advanced as proprietary methods relying on image statistics separated from downstream vision algorithms. In this work, we revisit auto-exposure control as an alternative to HDR sensors. We propose a neural network for exposure selection that is trained jointly, end-to-end with an object detector and an image signal processing (ISP) pipeline. To this end, we use an HDR dataset for automotive object detection and an HDR training procedure. We validate that the proposed neural auto-exposure control, which is tailored to object detection, outperforms conventional auto-exposure methods by more than 6 points in mean average precision (mAP).