Real-Time Instance Segmentation for Detection of Underwater Litter as a Plastic Source
Thousands of tonnes of litter enter the ocean every day, posing a significant threat to marine life and ecosystems. While floating and beach litter are often in the spotlight, about 70% of marine litter eventually sinks to the seafloor, making underwater litter the largest accumulation of marine litter that often goes undetected. Plastic debris makes up the majority of ocean litter and is a known source of microplastics in the ocean. This paper focuses on the detection of ocean plastic using neural network models. Two neural network models will be trained, i.e., YOLACT and the Mask R-CNN, for the instance segmentation of underwater litter in images. The models are trained on the TrashCAN dataset, using pre-trained model weights trained using COCO. The trained neural network could achieve a mean average precision (𝑚𝐴𝑃) of 0.377 and 0.365 for the Mask R-CNN and YOLACT, respectively. The lightweight nature of YOLACT allows it to detect images at up to six times the speed of the Mask R-CNN, while only making a comparatively smaller trade-off in terms of performance. This allows for two separate applications: YOLACT for the collection of litter using autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) and the Mask R-CNN for surveying litter distribution.
Journal/Conference/Book titleJournal of Marine Science and Engineering