A Deep Neural Networks Approach for Pixel-Level Runway Pavement Crack Segmentation Using Drone-Captured Images

01/09/2020 ∙ by Liming Jiang, et al. ∙ 23

Pavement conditions are a critical aspect of asset management and directly affect safety. This study introduces a deep neural network method called U-Net for pavement crack segmentation based on drone-captured images to reduce the cost and time needed for airport runway inspection. The proposed approach can also be used for highway pavement conditions assessment during off-peak periods when there are few vehicles on the road. In this study, runway pavement images are collected using drone at various heights from the Fitchburg Municipal Airport (FMA) in Massachusetts to evaluate their quality and applicability for crack segmentation, from which an optimal height is determined. Drone images captured at the optimal height are then used to evaluate the crack segmentation performance of the U-Net model. Deep learning methods typically require a huge set of annotated training datasets for model development, which can be a major obstacle for their applications. An online annotated pavement image dataset is used together with the FMA data to train the U-Net model. The results show that U-Net performs well on the FMA testing data even with limited FMA training images, suggesting that it has good generalization ability and great potential to be used for both airport runways and highway pavements.

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