Visual inspection is a vital component of asset management that stands to benefit from automation. Using artificial intelligence to assist inspections can increase safety, reduce access costs, provide objective classification, and integrate with digital asset management systems. The work presented herein investigates the impact of dataset size on Deep Learning for automatic detection of corrosion on steel assets. Dataset creation is typically one of the first steps when applying Machine Learning methods to a new task; and the real-world performance of models hinges on the quality and quantity of data available. Producing an image dataset for semantic segmentation is resource intensive, particularly for specialist subjects where class segmentation is not able to be effectively farmed out. The benefit of producing a large, but poorly labelled, dataset versus a small, expertly segmented dataset for semantic segmentation is an open question. Here we show that a large, noisy dataset outperforms a small, expertly segmented dataset for training a Fully Convolutional Network model for semantic segmentation of corrosion in images. A large dataset of 250 images with segmentations labelled by undergraduates and a second dataset of just 10 images, with segmentations labelled by subject matter experts were produced. The mean Intersection over Union and micro F-score metrics were compared after training for 50,000 epochs. The relationship between dataset size and F-score was investigated to estimate the requirements to achieve human level accuracy. This work is illustrative for researchers setting out to develop deep learning models for detection and location of specialist features.


Corrosion is a difficult subject to detect compared to other common subjects such as the human face that have distinct features: two eyes, a nose and a mouth; corrosion shares limited characteristics in colour range and texture - and the appearance of corrosion is confused on both counts, with shadows, boulders, bricks, safety vests all presenting false positives for Deep Convolutional Neural Network (D-CNN) models. Furthermore, the boundary between corroded and uncorroded areas in images is often undefined, due to image compression artefacts and focal range (depth of field).

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