nuScenes Dataset

The purpose of this tutorial is to help users get started with nuScenes. The tutorial gives an overview of the dataset without the need to download it.

Getting Started

To download nuScenes you need to go to the Download page, create an account and agree to the nuScenes Terms of Use. After logging in you will see multiple archives. For the devkit to work you will need to download all archives.

Please unpack the archives to the /data/sets/nuscenes folder without overwriting folders that occur in multiple archives. Eventually you should have the following folder structure:

    samples - Sensor data for keyframes.
    sweeps - Sensor data for intermediate frames.
    maps - Large image files (~500 Gigapixel) that depict the drivable surface and sidewalks in the scene.
    v1.0-* - JSON tables that include all the meta data and annotations. Each split (trainval, test, mini) is provided in a separate folder.

If you want to use another folder, specify the dataroot parameter of the NuScenes class (see tutorial).

Setup devkit

The devkit is tested for Python s3.6 and Python 3.7. To install python, please check here.

Our devkit is available and can be installed via pip:

pip install nuscenes-devkit

For an advanced installation, see installation for detailed instructions.


The purpose of this tutorial is to help users get started with nuScenes. The tutorial gives an overview of the dataset without the need to download it. This page is a rendered version of a Jupyter Notebook. To suggest improvements or give feedback please refer to the devkit repository.

In case you want to avoid downloading and setting up the data, you can also take a look at the rendered notebook on nuScenes.org. To learn more about the dataset, go to nuScenes.org or take a look at the database schema and annotator instructions. The nuScenes paper provides detailed analysis of the dataset.

%matplotlib inline
from nuscenes.nuscenes import NuScenes
nusc = NuScenes(version='v1.0-mini', dataroot='/data/sets/nuscenes', verbose=True)

A Gentle Introduction to nuScenes

In this part of the tutorial, let us go through a top-down introduction of our database. This section is an elaboration of schema.md. Our dataset comprises of elemental building blocks that are the following:

  1. scene - 20 second snippet of a car's journey.
  2. sample - An annotated snapshot of a scene at a particular timestamp.
  3. sample_data - Data collected from a particular sensor.
  4. sample_annotation - An annotated instance of an object within our interest.
  5. instance - Enumeration of all object instance we observed.
  6. category - Taxonomy of object categories (e.g. vehicle, human).
  7. attribute - Property of an instance that can change while the category remains the same.
  8. visibility - Fraction of pixels visible in all the images collected from 6 different cameras..
  9. sensor - A specific sensor type.
  10. calibrated sensor - Definition of a particular sensor as calibrated on a particular vehicle.
  11. ego_pose - Ego vehicle poses at a particular timestamp.
  12. log - Log information from which the data was extracted.
  13. map - Map data that is stored as binary semantic masks from a top-down view.

1. scene

nuScenes is a large scale database that features annotated samples across 1000 scenes of approximately 20 seconds each. Let's take a look at the scenes that we have in the loaded database.


Let's look at a scene metadata

my_scene = nusc.scene[0]

2. sample

In scenes, we annotate our data every half a second (2 Hz).

We define sample as an annotated keyframe of a scene at a given timestamp. A keyframe is a frame where the time-stamps of data from all the sensors should be very close to the time-stamp of the sample it points to.

Now, let us look at the first annotated sample in this scene.

first_sample_token = my_scene['first_sample_token']

# The rendering command below is commented out because it tends to crash in notebooks
# nusc.render_sample(first_sample_token)

Let's examine its metadata

my_sample = nusc.get('sample', first_sample_token)

A useful method is list_sample() which lists all related sample_data keyframes andsample_annotation associated with a sample which we will discuss in detail in the subsequent parts.


3. sample_data

The nuScenes dataset contains data that is collected from a full sensor suite. Hence, for each snapshot of a scene, we provide references to a family of data that is collected from these sensors.

We provide a data key to access these:


Notice that the keys are referring to the different sensors that form our sensor suite. Let's take a look at the metadata of a sample_data taken from CAM_FRONT.

sensor = 'CAM_FRONT'
cam_front_data = nusc.get('sample_data', my_sample['data'][sensor])

We can also render the sample_data at a particular sensor.


4. sample_annotation

sample_annotation refers to any bounding box defining the position of an object seen in a sample. All location data is given with respect to the global coordinate system. Let's examine an example from our sample above.

my_annotation_token = my_sample['anns'][18]
my_annotation_metadata = nusc.get('sample_annotation', my_annotation_token)

We can also render an annotation to have a closer look.


5. instance

Object instance are instances that need to be detected or tracked by an AV (e.g a particular vehicle, pedestrian). Let us examine an instance metadata

my_instance = nusc.instance[599]

We generally track an instance across different frames in a particular scene. However, we do not track them across different scenes. In this example, we have 16 annotated samples for this instance across a particular scene.

instance_token = my_instance['token']

An instance record takes note of its first and last annotation token. Let's render them

print("First annotated sample of this instance:")
print("Last annotated sample of this instance")

6. category

A category is the object assignment of an annotation. Let's look at the category table we have in our database. The table contains the taxonomy of different object categories and also list the subcategories (delineated by a period).


A category record contains the name and the description of that particular category.


Refer to instructions.md for the definitions of the different categories.

7. attribute

An attribute is a property of an instance that may change throughout different parts of a scene while the category remains the same. Here we list the provided attributes and the number of annotations associated with a particular attribute.


Let's take a look at an example how an attribute may change over one scene

my_instance = nusc.instance[27]
first_token = my_instance['first_annotation_token']
last_token = my_instance['last_annotation_token']
nbr_samples = my_instance['nbr_annotations']
current_token = first_token

i = 0
found_change = False
while current_token != last_token:
    current_ann = nusc.get('sample_annotation', current_token)
    current_attr = nusc.get('attribute', current_ann['attribute_tokens'][0])['name']

    if i == 0:
    elif current_attr != last_attr:
        print("Changed from `` to `` at timestamp out of annotated timestamps".format(last_attr, current_attr, i, nbr_samples))
        found_change = True

    next_token = current_ann['next']
    current_token = next_token
    last_attr = current_attr
    i += 1

8. visibility

visibility is defined as the fraction of pixels of a particular annotation that are visible over the 6 camera feeds, grouped into 4 bins.


Let's look at an example sample_annotation with 80-100% visibility

anntoken = 'a7d0722bce164f88adf03ada491ea0ba'
visibility_token = nusc.get('sample_annotation', anntoken)['visibility_token']

print("Visibility: ".format(nusc.get('visibility',

Let's look at an example sample_annotation with 0-40% visibility

anntoken = '9f450bf6b7454551bbbc9a4c6e74ef2e'
visibility_token = nusc.get('sample_annotation', anntoken)['visibility_token']

print("Visibility: ".format(nusc.get('visibility',f

9. sensor

The nuScenes dataset consists of data collected from our full sensor suite which consists of:

  • 1 x LIDAR,
  • 5 x RADAR,
  • 6 x cameras,

Every sample_data has a record on which sensor the data is collected from (note the "channel" key)


10. calibrated_sensor

calibrated_sensor consists of the definition of a particular sensor (lidar/radar/camera) as calibrated on a particular vehicle. Let us look at an example.


Note that the translation and the rotation parameters are given with respect to the ego vehicle body frame.

11. ego_pose

ego_pose contains information about the location (encoded in translation) and the orientation (encoded in rotation) of the ego vehicle body frame, with respect to the global coordinate system.


Note that the number of ego_pose records in our loaded database is the same as the number ofsample_data records. These two records exhibit a one-to-one correspondence.

12. log

The log table contains log information from which the data was extracted. A logrecord corresponds to one journey of our ego vehicle along a predefined route. Let's check the number of logs and the metadata of a log.

print("Number of `logs` in our loaded database: ".format(len(nusc.log)))

Notice that it contains a variety of information such as the date and location of the log collected. It also gives out information about the map from where the data was collected. Note that one log can contain multiple non-overlapping scenes.

13. map

Map information is stored as binary semantic masks from a top-down view. Let's check the number of maps and metadata of a map.

print("There are  maps masks in the loaded dataset".format(len(nusc.map)))

nuScenes Basics

Let's get a bit technical.

The NuScenes class holds several tables. Each table is a list of records, and each record is a dictionary. For example the first record of the category table is stored at:


The category table is simple: it holds the fields name and description. It also has a token field, which is a unique record identifier. Since the record is a dictionary, the token can be accessed like so:

cat_token = nusc.category[0]['token']

If you know the token for any record in the DB you can retrieve the record by doing

nusc.get('category', cat_token)

As you can notice, we have recovered the same record!

OK, that was easy. Let's try something harder. Let's look at the sample_annotation table.


This also has a token field (they all do). In addition, it has several fields of the format [a-z]*_token, e.g. instance_token. These are foreign keys in database speak, meaning they point to another table. Using nusc.get() we can grab any of these in constant time. For example, let's look at the visibility record.

nusc.get('visibility', nusc.sample_annotation[0]['visibility_token'])

The visibility records indicate how much of an object was visible when it was annotated.

Let's also grab the instance_token

one_instance = nusc.get('instance', nusc.sample_annotation[0]['instance_token'])

This points to the instance table. This table enumerate the object instances we have encountered in each scene. This way we can connect all annotations of a particular object.

If you look carefully at the README tables, you will see that the sample_annotation table points to the instance table, but the instance table doesn't list all annotations that point to it.

So how can we recover all sample_annotations for a particular object instance? There are two ways:

  1. Use nusc.field2token(). Let's try it:
ann_tokens = nusc.field2token('sample_annotation', 'instance_token', one_instance['token'])

This returns a list of all sample_annotation records with the 'instance_token' ==one_instance['token']. Let's store these in a set for now

ann_tokens_field2token = set(ann_tokens)


The nusc.field2token() method is generic and can be used in any similar situation.

  1. For certain situation, we provide some reverse indices in the tables themselves. This is one such example.

The instance record has a field first_annotation_token which points to the first annotation in time of this instance. Recovering this record is easy.

ann_record = nusc.get('sample_annotation', one_instance['first_annotation_token'])ann_record

Now we can traverse all annotations of this instance using the "next" field. Let's try it.

ann_tokens_traverse = set()
while not ann_record['next'] == "":
    ann_record = nusc.get('sample_annotation', ann_record['next'])

Finally, let's assert that we recovered the same ann_records as we did using nusc.field2token:

print(ann_tokens_traverse == ann_tokens_field2token)

Reverse indexing and short-cuts

The nuScenes tables are normalized, meaning that each piece of information is only given once. For example, there is one map record for each log record. Looking at the schema you will notice that the map table has a log_token field, but that the logtable does not have a corresponding map_token field. But there are plenty of situations where you have a log, and want to find the corresponding map! So what to do? You can always use the nusc.field2token() method, but that is slow and inconvenient. We therefore add reverse mappings for some common situations including this one.

Further, there are situations where one needs to go through several tables to get a certain piece of information. Consider, for example, the category name (e.g. human.pedestrian) of asample_annotation. The sample_annotation table doesn't hold this information since the category is an instance level constant. Instead the sample_annotation table points to a record in the instance table. This, in turn, points to a record in the categorytable, where finally the name fields stores the required information.

Since it is quite common to want to know the category name of an annotation, we add acategory_name field to the sample_annotation table during initialization of the NuScenes class.

In this section, we list the short-cuts and reverse indices that are added to the NuScenes class during initialization. These are all created in the NuScenes.__make_reverse_index__() method.

Reverse indices

We add two reverse indices by default.

  • A map_token field is added to the log records.
  • The sample records have shortcuts to all sample_annotations for that record as well as sample_data key-frames. Confer nusc.list_sample() method in the previous section for more details on this.


The sample_annotation table has a "category_name" shortcut.

Using shortcut:

catname = nusc.sample_annotation[0]['category_name']

Not using shortcut:

ann_rec = nusc.sample_annotation[0]
inst_rec = nusc.get('instance', ann_rec['instance_token'])
cat_rec = nusc.get('category', inst_rec['category_token'])
print(catname == cat_rec['name'])

The sample_data table has "channel" and "sensor_modality" shortcuts:

# Shortcut
channel = nusc.sample_data[0]['channel']

# No shortcut
sd_rec = nusc.sample_data[0]
cs_record = nusc.get('calibrated_sensor', sd_rec['calibrated_sensor_token'])
sensor_record = nusc.get('sensor', cs_record['sensor_token'])

print(channel == sensor_record['channel'])

Data Visualizations

We provide list and rendering methods. These are meant both as convenience methods during development, and as tutorials for building your own visualization methods. They are implemented in the NuScenesExplorer class, with shortcuts through the NuScenes class itself.

List methods

There are three list methods available.

  1. list_categories() lists all categories, counts and statistics of width/length/height in meters and aspect ratio.
  1. list_attributes() lists all attributes and counts.
  1. list_scenes() lists all scenes in the loaded DB.


First, let's plot a lidar point cloud in an image. Lidar allows us to accurately map the surroundings in 3D.

my_sample = nusc.sample[10]
nusc.render_pointcloud_in_image(my_sample['token'], pointsensor_channel='LIDAR_TOP')

Second, let's plot the radar point cloud for the same image. Radar is less dense than lidar, but has a much larger range.

nusc.render_pointcloud_in_image(my_sample['token'], pointsensor_channel='RADAR_FRONT')

We can also plot all annotations across all sample data for that sample. Note how for radar we also plot the velocity vectors of moving objects. Some velocity vectors are outliers, which can be filtered using the settings in RadarPointCloud.from_file()

my_sample = nusc.sample[20]

# The rendering command below is commented out because it tends to crash in notebooks
# nusc.render_sample(my_sample['token'])

Or if we only want to render a particular sensor, we can specify that.


Additionally we can aggregate the point clouds from multiple sweeps to get a denser point cloud.

nusc.render_sample_data(my_sample['data']['LIDAR_TOP'], nsweeps=5)
nusc.render_sample_data(my_sample['data']['RADAR_FRONT_RIGHT'], nsweeps=5)

We can even render a specific annotation.


Finally, we can render a full scene as a video. There are two options here:

  1. nusc.render_scene_channel() renders the video for a particular channel. (HIT ESC to exit)
  2. nusc.render_scene() renders the video for all camera channels.

NOTE: These methods use OpenCV for rendering, which doesn't always play nice with IPython Notebooks. If you experience any issues please run these lines from the command line.

Let's grab scene 0043, it is nice and dense.

my_scene_token = nusc.field2token('scene', 'name', 'scene-0061')[0]
nusc.render_scene_channel(my_scene_token, 'CAM_FRONT')

There is also a method nusc.render_scene() which renders the video for all camera channels. This requires a high-res monitor, and is also best run outside this notebook.


Finally, let us visualize all scenes on the map for a particular location.


Frequently asked questions

On this page we try to answer questions frequently asked by our users.

  • How can I get in contact?
    • For questions about commercialization, collaboration and marketing, please contact [email protected].
    • For issues and bugs with the devkit, file an issue on Github.
    • For any other questions, please post in the nuScenes user forum.

  • How can I get started?
  • Can I use nuScenes for free?

    • For non-commercial use nuScenes is free, e.g. for educational use and some research use.
    • For commercial use please contact [email protected]. To allow startups to use our dataset, we adjust the pricing terms to the use case and company size.
  • How can I participate in the nuScenes challenges?

  • What's next for nuScenes?
    • A map expansion kit with 20+ different semantic layers (e.g. lanes, stop lines, traffic lights).
    • Raw IMU & GPS data.
    • Object detection, tracking and other challenges (see above).

  • How can I get more information on the sensors used?
    • Read the Data collection page.
    • Note that we do not give away the vendor name and model to avoid endorsing a particular vendor. All sensors are publicly available from third-party vendors.
    • For more information, please contact nu[email protected].

  • Can I use nuScenes for 2d object detection?

    • Objects in nuScenes are annotated in 3d.
    • You can use this script to project them to 2d, but note that such 2d boxes are not generally tight.
  • How can I share my new dataset / paper for Autonomous Driving?