Many real-time vision applications require accurate estimation of optical flow. This problem is quite challenging due to extremely high computation and memory requirements. This thesis focuses on designing low complexity dense optical flow algorithms.
First, a new method for optical flow that is based on Semi-Global Matching (SGM), a popular dynamic programming algorithm for stereo vision, is presented. In SGM, the disparity of each pixel is calculated by aggregating local matching costs over the entire image to resolve local ambiguity in texture-less and occluded regions. The proposed method, Neighbor-Guided Semi-Global Matching (NG-fSGM) achieves significantly less complexity compared to SGM, by 1) operating on a subset of the search space that has been aggressively pruned based on neighboring pixels’ information, 2) using a simple cost aggregation function, 3) approximating aggregated cost array and embedding pixel-wise matching cost computation and flow computation in aggregation. Evaluation on the Middlebury benchmark suite showed that, compared to a prior SGM extension for optical flow, the proposed basic NG-fSGM provides robust optical flow with 0.53% accuracy improvement, 40x reduction in number of operations and 6x reduction in memory size. To further reduce the complexity, sparse-to-dense flow estimation method is proposed. The number of operations and memory size are reduced by 68% and 47%, respectively, with only 0.42% accuracy degradation, compared to the basic NG-fSGM.
A parallel block-based version of NG-fSGM is also proposed. The image is divided into overlapping blocks and the blocks are processed in parallel to improve throughput, latency and power efficiency. To minimize the amount of overlap among blocks with minimal effect on the accuracy, temporal information is used to estimate a flow map that guides flow vector selections for pixels along block boundaries. The proposed block-based NG-fSGM achieves significant reduction in complexity with only 0.51% accuracy degradation compared to the basic NG-fSGM.