BIRDSAI: A Dataset for Detection and Tracking in Aerial Thermal Infrared Videos

Elizabeth Bondi, Raghav Jain, Palash Aggrawal, Saket Anand, Robert Hannaford, Ashish Kapoor, Jim Piavis, Shital Shah, Lucas Joppa, Bistra Dilkina, Milind Tambe; The IEEE Winter Conference on Applications of Computer Vision (WACV), 2020, pp. 1747-1756


Monitoring of protected areas to curb illegal activities like poaching and animal trafficking is a monumental task. To augment existing manual patrolling efforts, unmanned aerial surveillance using visible and thermal infrared (TIR) cameras is increasingly being adopted. Automated data acquisition has become easier with advances in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and sensors like TIR cameras, which allow surveillance at night when poaching typically occurs. However, it is still a challenge to accurately and quickly process large amounts of the resulting TIR data. In this paper, we present the first large dataset collected using a TIR camera mounted on a fixed-wing UAV in multiple African protected areas. This dataset includes TIR videos of humans and animals with several challenging scenarios like scale variations, background clutter due to thermal reflections, large camera rotations, and motion blur. Additionally, we provide another dataset with videos synthetically generated with the publicly available Microsoft AirSim simulation platform using a 3D model of an African savanna and a TIR camera model. Through our benchmarking experiments on state-of-the-art detectors, we demonstrate that leveraging the synthetic data in a domain adaptive setting can significantly improve detection performance. We also evaluate various recent approaches for single and multi-object tracking. With the increasing popularity of aerial imagery for monitoring and surveillance purposes, we anticipate this unique dataset to be used to develop and evaluate techniques for object detection, tracking, and domain adaptation for aerial, TIR videos.

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author = {Bondi, Elizabeth and Jain, Raghav and Aggrawal, Palash and Anand, Saket and Hannaford, Robert and Kapoor, Ashish and Piavis, Jim and Shah, Shital and Joppa, Lucas and Dilkina, Bistra and Tambe, Milind},
title = {BIRDSAI: A Dataset for Detection and Tracking in Aerial Thermal Infrared Videos},
booktitle = {The IEEE Winter Conference on Applications of Computer Vision (WACV)},
month = {March},
year = {2020}