A lightweight and accurate YOLO-like network for small target detection in Aerial Imagery
Despite the breakthrough deep learning performances achieved for automatic object detection, small target detection is still a challenging problem, especially when looking at fast and accurate solutions suitable for mobile or edge applications. In this work we present YOLO-S, a simple, fast and efficient network for small target detection. The architecture exploits a small feature extractor based on Darknet20, as well as skip connection, via both bypass and concatenation, and
... layer to alleviate the vanishing gradient problem, promote feature reuse across network and combine low-level positional information with more meaningful high-level information. To verify the performances of YOLO-S, we build "AIRES", a novel dataset for cAr detectIon fRom hElicopter imageS acquired in Europe, and set up experiments on both AIRES and VEDAI datasets, benchmarking this architecture with four baseline detectors. Furthermore, in order to handle efficiently the issue of data insufficiency and domain gap when dealing with a transfer learning strategy, we introduce a transitional learning task over a combined dataset based on DOTAv2 and VEDAI and demonstrate that can enhance the overall accuracy with respect to more general features transferred from COCO data. YOLO-S is from 25% to 50% faster than YOLOv3 and only 15-25% slower than Tiny-YOLOv3, outperforming also YOLOv3 in terms of accuracy in a wide range of experiments. Further simulations performed on SARD dataset demonstrate also its applicability to different scenarios such as for search and rescue operations. Besides, YOLO-S has an 87% decrease of parameter size and almost one half FLOPs of YOLOv3, making practical the deployment for low-power industrial applications.