SyNet: an ensemble network for object detection in UAV images

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Recent advances in camera equipped drone applications and their widespread use increased the demand on vision based object detection algorithms for aerial images. Object detection process is inherently a challenging task as a generic computer vision problem, however, since the use of object detection algorithms on UAVs (or on drones) is relatively a new area, it remains as a more challenging problem to detect objects in aerial images. There are several reasons for that including: (i) the lack of large drone datasets including large object variance, (ii) the large orientation and scale variance in drone images when compared to the ground images, and (iii) the difference in texture and shape features between the ground and the aerial images. Deep learning based object detection algorithms can be classified under two main categories: (a) single-stage detectors and (b) multi-stage detectors. Both single-stage and multi-stage solutions have their advantages and disadvantages over each other. However, a technique to combine the good sides of each of those solutions could yield even a stronger solution than each of those solutions individually. In this paper, we propose an ensemble network, SyNet, that combines a multi-stage method with a single-stage one with the motivation of decreasing the high false negative rate of multi-stage detectors and increasing the quality of the single-stage detector proposals. As building blocks, CenterNet and Cascade R-CNN with pretrained feature extractors are utilized along with an ensembling strategy. We report the state of the art results obtained by our proposed solution on two different datasets: namely MS-COCO and visDrone with %52.1 mAP IoU=0.75 is obtained on MS-COCO val2017 dataset and %26.2 mAP IoU=0.75 is obtained on VisDrone test - set. Our code is available at:

Conference Name: 2020 25th International Conference on Pattern Recognition (ICPR)
Date of Conference: 10-15 Jan. 2021
Deep learning, Ensemble methods, Object detection, UAV images