The Devil is in the Crack Orientation: A New Perspective for Crack Detection
Cracks are usually curve-like structures that are the focus of many computer-vision applications (e.g., road safety inspection and surface inspection of industrial facilities). The existing pixel-based crack segmentation methods rely on time-consuming and costly pixel-level annotations. And the object-based crack detection methods exploit the horizontal box to detect the crack without considering crack orientation, resulting in scale variation and intra-class variation. Considering this, we provide a new perspective for crack detection that models the cracks as a series of sub-cracks with the corresponding orientation. However, the vanilla adaptation of the existing oriented object detection methods to the crack detection tasks will result in limited performance, due to the boundary discontinuity issue and the ambiguities in sub-crack orientation. In this paper, we propose a first-of-its-kind oriented sub-crack detector, dubbed as CrackDet, which is derived from a novel piecewise angle definition, to ease the boundary discontinuity problem. And then, we propose a multi-branch angle regression loss for learning sub-crack orientation and variance together. Since there are no related benchmarks, we construct three fully annotated datasets, namely, ORC, ONPP, and OCCSD, which involve various cracks in road pavement and industrial facilities. Experiments show that our approach outperforms state-of-the-art crack detectors.