Toward Robotic Weed Control: Detection of Nutsedge Weed in Bermudagrass Turf Using Inaccurate and Insufficient Training Data
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To enable robotic weed control, we develop algorithms to detect nutsedge weed from bermudagrass turf. Due to the similarity between the weed and the background turf, manual data labeling is expensive and error-prone. Consequently, directly applying deep learning methods for object detection cannot generate satisfactory results. Building on an instance detection approach (i.e. Mask R-CNN), we combine synthetic data with raw data to train the network. We propose an algorithm to generate high fidelity synthetic data, adopting different levels of annotations to reduce labeling cost. Moreover, we construct a nutsedge skeleton-based probabilistic map (NSPM) as the neural network input to reduce the reliance on pixel-wise precise labeling. We also modify loss function from cross entropy to Kullback-Leibler divergence which accommodates uncertainty in the labeling process. We implement the proposed algorithm and compare it with both Faster R-CNN and Mask R-CNN. The results show that our design can effectively overcome the impact of imprecise and insufficient training sample issues and significantly outperform the Faster R-CNN counterpart with a false negative rate of only 0.4%. In particular, our approach also reduces labeling time by 95% while achieving better performance if comparing with the original Mask R-CNN approach.