Automated Detection and Monitoring of Vegetation Through Deep Learning

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Khan, Asim (2022) Automated Detection and Monitoring of Vegetation Through Deep Learning. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Healthy vegetation are essential not just for environmental sustainability but also for the development of sustainable and liveable cities. It is undeniable that human activities are altering the vegetation landscape, with harmful implications for the climate. As a result, autonomous detection, health evaluation, and continual monitoring of the plants are required to ensure environmental sustainability. This thesis presents research on autonomous vegetation management using recent advances in deep learning. Currently, most towns do not have a system in place for detection and continual vegetation monitoring. On the one hand, a lack of public knowledge and political will could be a factor; on the other hand, no efficient and cost-effective technique of monitoring vegetation health has been established. Individual plants health condition data is essential since urban trees often develop as stand-alone objects. Manual annotation of these individual trees is a time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient operation that is normally done in person. As a result, skilled manual annotation cannot cover broad areas, and the data they create is out of date. However, autonomous vegetation management poses a number of challenges due to its multidisciplinary nature. It includes automated detection, health assessment, and monitoring of vegetation and trees by integrating techniques from computer vision, machine learning, and remote sensing. Other challenges include a lack of analysis-ready data and imaging diversity, as well as dealing with their dependence on weather variability. With a core focus on automation of vegetation management using deep learning and transfer learning, this thesis contributes novel techniques for Multi-view vegetation detection, robust calculation of vegetation index, and real- time vegetation health assessment using deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) and deep learning frameworks. The thesis focuses on four general aspects: a) training CNN with possibly inaccurate labels and noisy image dataset; b) deriving semantic vegetation segmentation from the ordinal information contained in the image; c) retrieving semantic vegetation indexes from street-level imagery; and d) developing a vegetation health assessment and monitoring system. Firstly, it is essential to detect and segment the vegetation, and then calculate the pixel value of the semantic vegetation index. However, because the images in multi- sensory data are not identical, all image datasets must be registered before being fed into the model training. The dataset used for vegetation detection and segmentation was acquired from multi-sensors. The whole dataset was multi-temporal based; therefore, it was registered using deep affine features through a convolutional neural network. Secondly, after preparing the dataset, vegetation was segmented by using Deep CNN, a fully convolutional network, and U-net. Although the vegetation index interprets the health of a particular area’s vegetation when assessing small and large vegetation (trees, shrubs, grass, etc.), the health of large plants, such as trees, is determined by steam. In contrast, small plants’ leaves are evaluated to decide whether they are healthy or unhealthy. Therefore, initially, small plant health was assessed through their leaves by training a deep neural network and integrating that trained model into an internet of things (IoT) device such as AWS DeepLens. Another deep CNN was trained to assess the health of large plants and trees like Eucalyptus. This one could also tell which trees were healthy and which ones were unhealthy, as well as their geo-location. Thus, we may ultimately analyse the vegetation’s health in terms of the vegetation index throughout time on the basis of a semantic-based vegetation index and compute the index in a time-series fashion. This thesis shows that computer vision, deep learning and remote sensing approaches can be used to process street-level imagery in different places and cities, to help manage urban forests in new ways, such as biomass-surveillance and remote vegetation monitoring.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4104 Environmental management
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4602 Artificial intelligence
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4603 Computer vision and multimedia computation
Current > Division/Research > College of Science and Engineering
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords vegetation, deep learning, transfer learning, deep convolutional neural networks, CNNs, computer vision, remote sensing approaches, imagery, plant health assessment, Google Street
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