Low-power, Continuous Remote Behavioral Localization with Event Cameras

1Technical University Berlin, 2Oxford University 3Oxford Brookes University


Researchers in natural science need reliable methods for quantifying animal behavior. Recently, numerous computer vision methods emerged to automate the process. However, observing wild species at remote locations remains a challenging task due to difficult lighting conditions and constraints on power supply and data storage.

Event cameras offer unique advantages for battery-dependent remote monitoring due to their low power consumption and high dynamic range capabilities. We use this novel sensor to quantify a behavior in Chinstrap penguins called ecstatic display. We formulate the problem as a temporal action detection task, determining the start and end times of the behavior. For this purpose, we recorded a colony of breeding penguins in Antarctica during several weeks and labeled event data on 16 nests. The developed method consists of a generator of candidate time intervals (proposals) and a classifier of the actions within them.

The experiments show that the event cameras' natural response to motion is effective for continuous behavior monitoring and detection, reaching a mean average precision (mAP) of 58% (which increases to 63% in good weather conditions). The results also demonstrate the robustness against various lighting conditions contained in the challenging dataset. The low-power capabilities of the event camera allows to record three times longer than with a conventional camera.