Hearing What You Cannot See: Acoustic Vehicle Detection Around Corners

Yannick Schulz, Avinash Kini Mattar, Thomas Hehn, Julian Kooij

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
95 Downloads (Pure)


This work proposes to use passive acoustic perception as an additional sensing modality for intelligent vehicles. We demonstrate that approaching vehicles behind blind corners can be detected by sound before such vehicles enter in line-of-sight. We have equipped a research vehicle with a roof-mounted microphone array, and show on data collected with this sensor setup that wall reflections provide information on the presence and direction of occluded approaching vehicles. A novel method is presented to classify if and from what direction a vehicle is approaching before it is visible, using as input Direction-of-Arrival features that can be efficiently computed from the streaming microphone array data. Since the ego-vehicle position within the local geometry affects the perceived patterns, we systematically study several environments types, and investigate generalization across these environments. With a static ego-vehicle, an accuracy of 0.92 is achieved on the hidden vehicle classification task. Compared to a state-of-the-art visual detector, Faster R-CNN, our pipeline achieves the same accuracy more than one second ahead, providing crucial reaction time for the situations we study. While the ego-vehicle is driving, we demonstrate positive results on acoustic detection, still achieving an accuracy of 0.84 within one environment type. We further study failure cases across environments to identify future research directions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2587-2594
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • Intelligent Transportation Systems
  • Object Detection
  • Robot Audition
  • Segmentation and Categorization


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