Leveraging synthetic imagery for collision-at-sea avoidance

by   Chris M. Ward, et al.

Maritime collisions involving multiple ships are considered rare, but in 2017 several United States Navy vessels were involved in fatal at-sea collisions that resulted in the death of seventeen American Servicemembers. The experimentation introduced in this paper is a direct response to these incidents. We propose a shipboard Collision-At-Sea avoidance system, based on video image processing, that will help ensure the safe stationing and navigation of maritime vessels. Our system leverages a convolutional neural network trained on synthetic maritime imagery in order to detect nearby vessels within a scene, perform heading analysis of detected vessels, and provide an alert in the presence of an inbound vessel. Additionally, we present the Navigational Hazards - Synthetic (NAVHAZ-Synthetic) dataset. This dataset, is comprised of one million annotated images of ten vessel classes observed from virtual vessel-mounted cameras, as well as a human "Topside Lookout" perspective. NAVHAZ-Synthetic includes imagery displaying varying sea-states, lighting conditions, and optical degradations such as fog, sea-spray, and salt-accumulation. We present our results on the use of synthetic imagery in a computer vision based collision-at-sea warning system with promising performance.


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