Wire Detection using Synthetic Data and Dilated Convolutional Networks for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Ratnesh Madaan, Daniel Maturana and Sebastian Scherer
Conference Paper, Proceedings of IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, September, 2017

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Wire detection is a key capability for safe navigation of autonomous aerial vehicles and is a challenging problem as wires are generally only a few pixels wide, can appear at any orientation and location, and are hard to distinguish from other similar looking lines and edges. We leverage the recent advances in deep learning by treating wire detection as a semantic segmentation task, and investigate the effectiveness of convolutional neural networks for the same. To find an optimal model in terms of detection accuracy and real time performance on a portable GPU, we perform a grid search over a finite space of architectures. Further, to combat the issue of unavailability of a large public dataset with annotations, we render synthetic wires using a ray tracing engine, and overlay them on 67K images from flight videos available on the internet. We use this synthetic dataset for pretraining our models before finetuning on real data, and show that synthetic data alone can lead to pretty accurate detections qualitatively as well. We also verify if providing explicit information about local evidence of wiry-ness in the form of edge and line detection results from a traditional computer vision method, as additional channels to the network input, makes the task easier or not. We evaluate our best models from the grid search on a publicly available dataset and show that they outperform previous work using traditional computer vision and various deep net baselines of FCNs, SegNet and E-Net, on both standard edge detection metrics and inference speed. Our top models run at more than 3Hz on the NVIDIA Jetson TX2 with input resolution of 480×640, with an Average Precision score of 0.73 on our test split of the USF dataset.

author = {Ratnesh Madaan and Daniel Maturana and Sebastian Scherer},
title = {Wire Detection using Synthetic Data and Dilated Convolutional Networks for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles},
booktitle = {Proceedings of IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems},
year = {2017},
month = {September},
keywords = {UAV, wire, detection, power, line, quadcopter, convolutional, deep, learning, network, neural, convnet, perception, image, computer, vision, synthetic, data, dilation, dilated, unmanned, aerial, vehicles, render},
} 2017-09-13T10:37:59-05:00