Vision-based pedestrian detection has become an active topic in computer vision and autonomous vehicles. It aims at detecting pedestrians appearing ahead of the vehicle using a camera so that autonomous vehicles can assess the danger and take action. Due to varied illumination and appearance, complex background and occlusion pedestrian detection in outdoor environments is a difficult problem. In this paper, we propose a novel hierarchical feature extraction and weighted kernel sparse representation model for pedestrian classification. Initially, hierarchical feature extraction based on a CENTRIST descriptor is used to capture discriminative structures. A max pooling operation is used to enhance the invariance of varying appearance. Then, a kernel sparse representation model is proposed to fully exploit the discrimination information embedded in the hierarchical local features, and a Gaussian weight function as the measure to effectively handle the occlusion in pedestrian images. Extensive experiments are conducted on benchmark databases, including INRIA, Daimler, an artificially generated dataset and a real occluded dataset, demonstrating the more robust performance of the proposed method compared to state-of-the-art pedestrian classification methods.
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