Local feature description in cross-spectral imagery

CVC has a new PhD on its record!


Over the last few years, the number of consumer computer vision applications has increased dramatically. Today, computer vision solutions can be found in video game consoles, smartphone applications, driving assistance - just to name a few. Ideally, we require the performance of those applications, particularly those that are safety critical to remain constant under any external environment factors, such as changes in illumination or weather conditions. However, this is not always possible or very difficult to obtain by only using visible imagery, due to the inherent limitations of the images from that spectral band. For that reason, the use of images from different or multiple spectral bands is becoming more appealing.

The aforementioned possible advantages of using images from multiples spectral bands on various vision applications make multi-spectral image processing a relevant topic for research and development. Like in visible image processing, multi-spectral image processing needs tools and algorithms to handle information from various spectral bands. Furthermore, traditional tools such as local feature detection, which is the basis of many vision tasks such as visual odometry, image registration, or structure from motion, must be adjusted or reformulated to operate under new conditions. Traditional feature detection, description, and matching methods tend to underperform in multi-spectral settings, in comparison to mono-spectral settings, due to the natural differences between each spectral band.

The work in this thesis is focused on the local feature description problem when cross-spectral images are considered. In this context, this dissertation has three main contributions. Firstly, the work starts by proposing the usage of a combination of frequency and spatial information, in a multi-scale scheme, as feature description. Evaluations of this proposal, based on classical handmade feature descriptors, and comparisons with state of the art cross-spectral approaches help to find and understand limitations of such strategy. Secondly, different convolutional neural network (CNN) based architectures are evaluated when used to describe cross-spectral image patches. Results showed that CNN-based methods, designed to work with visible monocular images, could be successfully applied to the description of images from two different spectral bands, with just minor modifications. In this framework, a novel CNN-based network model, specifically intended to describe image patches from two different spectral bands, is proposed.

This network, referred to as Q-Net, outperforms state of the art in the cross-spectral domain, including both previous hand-made solutions as well as L2 CNN-based architectures. The third contribution of this dissertation is in the cross-spectral feature description application domain. The multispectral odometry problem is tackled showing a real application of cross-spectral descriptors In addition to the three main contributions mentioned above, in this dissertation, two different multi-spectral datasets are generated and shared with the community to be used as benchmarks for further studies.