Infrared (IR) images are essential to improve the visibility of dark or camouflaged objects. Object recognition and segmentation based on a neural network using IR images provide more accuracy and insight than color visible images. But the bottleneck is the amount of relevant IR images for training. It is difficult to collect real-world IR images for special purposes, including space exploration, military and fire-fighting applications. To solve this problem, we created color visible and IR images using a Unity-based 3D game editor. These synthetically generated color visible and IR images were used to train cycle consistent adversarial networks (CycleGAN) to convert visible images to IR images. CycleGAN has the advantage that it does not require precisely matching visible and IR pairs for transformation training. In this study, we discovered that additional synthetic data can help improve CycleGAN performance. Neural network training using real data (N = 20) performed more accurate transformations than training using real (N = 10) and synthetic (N = 10) data combinations. The result indicates that the synthetic data cannot exceed the quality of the real data. Neural network training using real (N = 10) and synthetic (N = 100) data combinations showed almost the same performance as training using real data (N = 20). At least 10 times more synthetic data than real data is required to achieve the same performance. In summary, CycleGAN is used with synthetic data to improve the IR image conversion performance of visible images.
It is important to find the target as soon as possible for search and rescue operations. Surveillance camera systems and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are used to support search and rescue. Automatic object detection is important because a person cannot monitor multiple surveillance screens simultaneously for 24 hours. Also, the object is often too small to be recognized by the human eye on the surveillance screen. This study used UAVs around the Port of Houston and fixed surveillance cameras to build an automatic target detection system that supports the US Coast Guard (USCG) to help find targets (e.g., person overboard). We combined image segmentation, enhancement, and convolution neural networks to reduce detection time to detect small targets. We compared the performance between the auto-detection system and the human eye. Our system detected the target within 8 seconds, but the human eye detected the target within 25 seconds. Our systems also used synthetic data generation and data augmentation techniques to improve target detection accuracy. This solution may help the search and rescue operations of the first responders in a timely manner.