LidarClip or: How I learned to talk to point clouds


Research connecting text and images has recently seen several breakthroughs, with models like CLIP, DALL-E 2, and Stable Diffusion. However, the connection between text and other visual modalities, such as lidar data, has received less attention, prohibited by the lack of text-lidar datasets. In this work, we propose LidarCLIP, a mapping from automotive point clouds to a pre-existing CLIP embedding space. Using image-lidar pairs, we supervise a point cloud encoder with the image CLIP embeddings, effectively relating text and lidar data with the image domain as an intermediary. We show the effectiveness of LidarCLIP by demonstrating that lidar-based retrieval is generally on par with image-based retrieval, but with complementary strengths and weaknesses. By combining image and lidar features, we improve upon both single-modality methods and enable a targeted search for challenging detection scenarios under adverse sensor conditions. We also use LidarCLIP as a tool to investigate fundamental lidar capabilities through natural language. Finally, we leverage our compatibility with CLIP to explore a range of applications, such as point cloud captioning and lidar-to-image generation, without any additional training. We hope LidarCLIP can inspire future work to dive deeper into connections between text and point cloud understanding. Code and trained models available here.


  title   = {Lidarclip or: How i learned to talk to point clouds},
  author  = {Hess, Georg and Tonderski, Adam and Petersson, Christoffer and
             Svensson, Lennart and Åström, Kalle},
  journal = {arXiv preprint arXiv:2212.06858},
  year    = {2022}