Deep Traffic Sign Detection and Recognition Without Target Domain Real Images

Deep learning has been successfully applied to several problems related to autonomous driving, often relying on large databases of real target-domain images for proper training. The acquisition of such real-world data is not always possible in the self-driving context, and sometimes their annotation is not feasible. Moreover, in many tasks, there is an intrinsic data imbalance that most learning-based methods struggle to cope with. Particularly, traffic sign detection is a challenging problem in which these three issues are seen altogether. To address these challenges, we propose a novel database generation method that requires only (i) arbitrary natural images, i.e., requires no real image from the target-domain, and (ii) templates of the traffic signs. The method does not aim at overcoming the training with real data, but to be a compatible alternative when the real data is not available. The effortlessly generated database is shown to be effective for the training of a deep detector on traffic signs from multiple countries. On large data sets, training with a fully synthetic data set almost matches the performance of training with a real one. When compared to training with a smaller data set of real images, training with synthetic images increased the accuracy by 12.25%. The proposed method also improves the performance of the detector when target-domain data are available.

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