MiniNet: An Extremely Lightweight Convolutional Neural Network for Real-Time Unsupervised Monocular Depth Estimation


Predicting depth from a single image is an attractive research topic since it provides one more dimension of information to enable machines to better perceive the world. Recently, deep learning has emerged as an effective approach to monocular depth estimation. As obtaining labeled data is costly, there is a recent trend to move from supervised learning to unsupervised learning to obtain monocular depth. However, most unsupervised learning methods capable of achieving high depth prediction accuracy will require a deep network architecture which will be too heavy and complex to run on embedded devices with limited storage and memory spaces. To address this issue, we propose a new powerful network with a recurrent module to achieve the capability of a deep network while at the same time maintaining an extremely lightweight size for real-time high performance unsupervised monocular depth prediction from video sequences. Besides, a novel efficient upsample block is proposed to fuse the features from the associated encoder layer and recover the spatial size of features with the small number of model parameters. We validate the effectiveness of our approach via extensive experiments on the KITTI dataset. Our new model can run at a speed of about 110 frames per second (fps) on a single GPU, 37 fps on a single CPU, and 2 fps on a Raspberry Pi 3. Moreover, it achieves higher depth accuracy with nearly 33 times fewer model parameters than state-of-the-art models. To the best of our knowledge, this work is the first extremely lightweight neural network trained on monocular video sequences for real-time unsupervised monocular depth estimation, which opens up the possibility of implementing deep learning-based real-time unsupervised monocular depth prediction on low-cost embedded devices.

ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing