Keywords: efficient sparse convolution, 3D detection, spatial pruning
Abstract: 3D scenes are dominated by a large number of background points, which is redundant for the detection task that mainly needs to focus on foreground objects. In this paper, we analyze major components of existing sparse 3D CNNs and find that 3D CNNs ignores the redundancy of data and further amplifies it in the down-sampling process, which brings a huge amount of extra and unnecessary computational overhead. Inspired by this, we propose a new convolution operator named spatial pruned sparse convolution (SPS-Conv), which includes two variants, spatial pruned submanifold sparse convolution (SPSS-Conv) and spatial pruned regular sparse convolution (SPRS-Conv), both of which are based on the idea of dynamically determine crucial areas for performing computations to reduce redundancy. We empirically find that magnitude of features can serve as an important cues to determine crucial areas which get rid of the heavy computations of learning-based methods. The proposed modules can easily be incorporated into existing sparse 3D CNNs without extra architectural modifications. Extensive experiments on the KITTI and nuScenes datasets demonstrate that our method can achieve more than 50% reduction in GFLOPs without compromising the performance.