Looking Outside the Window: Wide-Context Transformer for the Semantic Segmentation of High-Resolution Remote Sensing Images

Long-range contextual information is crucial for the semantic segmentation of High-Resolution (HR) Remote Sensing Images (RSIs). However, image cropping operations, commonly used for training neural networks, limit the perception of long-range contexts in large RSIs. To overcome this limitation, we propose a Wide-Context Network (WiCoNet) for the semantic segmentation of HR RSIs. Apart from extracting local features with a conventional CNN, the WiCoNet has an extra context branch to aggregate information from a larger image area. Moreover, we introduce a Context Transformer to embed contextual information from the context branch and selectively project it onto the local features. The Context Transformer extends the Vision Transformer, an emerging kind of neural network, to model the dual-branch semantic correlations. It overcomes the locality limitation of CNNs and enables the WiCoNet to see the bigger picture before segmenting the land-cover/land-use (LCLU) classes. Ablation studies and comparative experiments conducted on several benchmark datasets demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed method. In addition, we present a new Beijing Land-Use (BLU) dataset. This is a large-scale HR satellite dataset with high-quality and fine-grained reference labels, which can facilitate future studies in this field.

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