HomeArtificial IntelligenceAccelerating Ukraine Intelligence Evaluation with Laptop Imaginative and prescient on Artificial Aperture...

Accelerating Ukraine Intelligence Evaluation with Laptop Imaginative and prescient on Artificial Aperture Radar Imagery

Determine 1: Airmass measurements (clouds) over Ukraine from February 18, 2022 – March 01, 2022 from the SEVIRI instrument. Information accessed by way of the EUMETSAT Viewer.

Satellite tv for pc imagery is a important supply of knowledge in the course of the present invasion of Ukraine. Navy strategists, journalists, and researchers use this imagery to make choices, unveil violations of worldwide agreements, and inform the general public of the stark realities of warfare. With Ukraine experiencing a considerable amount of cloud cowl and assaults usually occuring throughout night-time, many types of satellite tv for pc imagery are hindered from seeing the bottom. Artificial Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery penetrates cloud cowl, however requires particular coaching to interpret. Automating this tedious job would allow real-time insights, however present pc imaginative and prescient strategies developed on typical RGB imagery don’t correctly account for the phenomenology of SAR. This results in suboptimal efficiency on this important modality. Bettering the entry to and availability of SAR-specific strategies, codebases, datasets, and pretrained fashions will profit intelligence businesses, researchers, and journalists alike throughout this important time for Ukraine.

On this submit, we current a baseline technique and pretrained fashions that allow the interchangeable use of RGB and SAR for downstream classification, semantic segmentation, and alter detection pipelines.


We stay in a quickly altering world, one which experiences pure disasters, civic upheaval, warfare, and all kinds of chaotic occasions which depart unpredictable—and sometimes everlasting—marks on the face of the planet. Understanding this transformation has traditionally been tough. Surveyors had been despatched out to discover our new actuality, and their distributed findings had been usually noisily built-in right into a supply of actuality. Sustaining a continuing state of vigilance has been a purpose of mankind since we had been in a position to conceive such a thought, all the best way from when Nadar took the primary aerial {photograph} to when Sputnik 1’s radio indicators had been used to research the ionosphere.

Vigilance, or to the French, surveillance, has been part of human historical past for millenia. As with every software, it has been a double-edged sword. Traditionally, surveillance with out checks and balances has been detrimental to society. Conversely, the correct and accountable surveillance has allowed us to study deep truths about our world which have resulted in advances within the scientific and humanitarian domains. With the quantity of satellites in orbit at the moment, our understanding of the atmosphere is up to date nearly every day. We’ve got quickly transitioned from having little or no info to now having extra knowledge than we are able to meaningfully extract data from. Storing this info, not to mention understanding, is an engineering problem that’s of rising urgency.

Machine Studying and Distant Sensing

With a whole lot of terabytes of knowledge being downlinked from satellites to knowledge facilities daily, gaining data and actionable insights from that knowledge with guide processing has already grow to be an unattainable job. Probably the most extensively used type of distant sensing knowledge is electro-optical (EO) satellite tv for pc imagery. EO imagery is commonplace—anybody who has used Google Maps or comparable mapping software program has interacted with EO satellite tv for pc imagery.

Machine studying (ML) on EO imagery is utilized in all kinds of scientific and industrial purposes. From bettering precipitation predictions, analyzing human slavery by figuring out brick kilns, to classifying total cities to enhance site visitors routing, the outputs of ML on EO imagery have been built-in into nearly each side of human society.

Determine 2: VHR EO imagery over the Kyiv area as acquired by Maxar on February 28, 2022.

Generally used satellite tv for pc constellations for EO imagery embrace the Landsat collection of satellites operated by the USA Geological Survey and the Copernicus Sentinel-2 constellation operated by the European House Company. These constellations present imagery at resolutions between 10-60 meters which is nice sufficient for a lot of use circumstances, however preclude the commentary of finer particulars.

The Introduction of Very Excessive Decision, Business Electro-Optical Satellite tv for pc Imagery

Over the previous few years, very excessive decision (VHR) EO imagery has been made obtainable by way of a wide range of industrial sources. Starting from between 0.3 – 2.0 meter decision, firms corresponding to Planet, Maxar, Airbus, and others are offering extraordinarily exact imagery with excessive revisit charges, imaging your entire planet daily.

Determine 3: An instance of Maxar VHR EO imagery displaying floating manufacturing, storage and off-loading items and a tanker.

The elevated decision offered by VHR imagery permits a litany of downstream use circumstances. Erosion might be detected at finer scales, and the constructing injury might be labeled after pure disasters.

Machine studying strategies have needed to adapt in response to VHR satellite tv for pc imagery. With an elevated acuity, the quantity of pixels and the quantity of courses that may be discerned has elevated by orders of magnitude. Laptop imaginative and prescient analysis has responded by decreasing the computational value to study environment friendly illustration of satellite tv for pc imagery, creating strategies to alleviate the elevated burden on labelers, and even engineering massive software program frameworks to permit pc imaginative and prescient practitioners to deal with this ample supply of images.

Generally, present pc imaginative and prescient strategies on different, non-aerial RGB imagery switch very properly to satellite tv for pc imagery. This has allowed industrial VHR imagery to be instantly helpful with extremely correct outcomes.

The Downside with Electro-Optical Imagery

For extremely turbulent and dangerous conditions corresponding to warfare and pure disasters, having fixed, dependable entry to the Earth is paramount. Sadly, EO imagery can not clear up all of our surveillance wants. EO can solely detect mild sources throughout daytime, and because it seems, practically 2/3rds of the Earth is roofed by clouds at any given time. Except you care about clouds, this blockage of the floor of the planet is problematic when understanding what occurs on the bottom is of important significance. Machine studying strategies try and sidestep this downside by predicting what the world would appear like with out clouds. Nevertheless, the lack of info is basically irrecoverable.

Artificial Aperture Radar Imagery

Artificial aperture radar (SAR) imagery is an lively type of distant sensing during which a satellite tv for pc transmits pulses of microwave radar waves all the way down to the floor of the Earth. These radar waves mirror off the bottom and any objects on it and are returned again to the satellite tv for pc. By processing these pulses over time and area, a SAR picture is fashioned the place every pixel is the superposition of various radar scatters.

Radar waves penetrate clouds, and because the satellite tv for pc is actively producing the radar waves, it illuminates the floor of the Earth even in the course of the night time. Artificial aperture radar has all kinds of makes use of, getting used to estimate the roughness of the Earth, mapping the extent of flooding over massive areas, and to detect the presence of unlawful fishing vessels in protected waters.

There are a number of SAR satellite tv for pc constellations in operation in the intervening time. The Copernicus Sentinel-1 constellation supplies imagery to the general public at massive with resolutions starting from 10 – 80 meters (10 meter imagery being the commonest. Most industrial SAR suppliers, corresponding to ICEYE and Capella House, present imagery all the way down to 0.5 meter decision. In upcoming launches, different industrial distributors purpose to provide SAR imagery with sub-0.5 meter decision with excessive revisit charges as satellite tv for pc constellations develop and authorities laws evolve.

Determine 4: A VHR SAR picture offered by Capella House over the Ukraine-Belarus border.

The Wacky World of Artificial Aperture Radar Imagery

Whereas SAR imagery, at a fast look, might look similar to EO imagery, the underlying physics is sort of completely different, which results in many fascinating results within the imagery product which might be counterintuitive and incompatible with fashionable pc imaginative and prescient. Three frequent results are termed polarization, layover, and multi-path results.

Radar antennas on SAR satellites usually transmit polarized radar waves. The route of polarization is the orientation of the wave’s electrical discipline. Objects on the bottom exhibit completely different responses to the completely different polarizations of radar waves. Subsequently, SAR satellites usually function in twin or quad-polarization modes, broadcasting horizontally (H) or vertically (V) polarized waves and studying both polarization again, leading to HH, HV, VH, and VV bands. You possibly can distinction this with RGB bands in EO imagery, however the elementary physics are completely different.

Determine 5: Distinction between VH (left) and VV (proper) polarizations over the identical area in Dnipro, Ukraine from Sentinel-1 radiometric terrain corrected imagery. As seen right here, the radar returns in corresponding native areas might be completely different.

Layover is an impact during which radar beams attain the highest of a construction earlier than they attain the underside, ensuing within the prime of the article being offered as overlapping with the underside. This occurs when objects are significantly tall. Visually, tall buildings seem as if they’re laying on their aspect, whereas mountains may have their peaks intersecting with their bases.

Determine 6: Instance of layover in Capella’s VHR SAR imagery. The higher portion of the stadium is intersecting, seemingly, with the car parking zone behind it.

Multi-path results happen when radar waves mirror off of objects on the bottom and incur a number of bounces earlier than returning to the SAR sensor. Multi-path results end in objects showing within the imagery in varied transformations within the ensuing picture. This impact might be seen all over the place in SAR imagery, however is especially noticeable in city areas, forests, and different dense environments.

Determine 7: Instance of a multi-path impact on a bridge from indirect SAR imagery.

Current pc imaginative and prescient strategies which might be constructed on conventional RGB imagery should not constructed with these results in thoughts. Object detectors educated on EO satellite tv for pc imagery assume {that a} distinctive object will solely seem as soon as, or that the article will seem comparatively comparable in several contexts, quite than doubtlessly mirrored or scattered or interwoven with surrounding objects. The very nature of occlusion and the imaginative and prescient ideas underlying the assumptions of occlusion in EO imagery don’t switch to SAR. Taken collectively, present pc imaginative and prescient methods can switch to SAR imagery, however with decreased efficiency and a set of systematic errors that may be addressed by way of SAR-specific methodology.

Laptop Imaginative and prescient on SAR Imagery for Ukraine

Imagery analysts are at present counting on each EO and SAR imagery the place obtainable over Ukraine. When EO imagery is offered, present pc imaginative and prescient tooling constructed for that modality is used to expedite the method of intelligence gathering. Nevertheless, when solely SAR imagery is offered, these toolchains can’t be used. Imagery analysts should resort to guide evaluation which is time consuming and might be vulnerable to errors. This matter is being explored by another establishments internationally, nevertheless, it nonetheless stays an understudied space with respect to the quantity of knowledge obtainable.

At Berkeley AI Analysis, now we have created an preliminary set of strategies and fashions which have realized sturdy representations for RGB, SAR, and co-registered RGB + SAR imagery from the publicly launched BigEarthNet-MM dataset and the information from Capella’s Open Information, which consists of each RGB and SAR imagery. As such, utilizing our fashions, imagery analysts are in a position to interchangeably use RGB, SAR, or co-registered RGB+SAR imagery for downstream duties corresponding to picture classification, semantic segmentation, object detection, or change detection.

Provided that SAR is a phenomenologically completely different knowledge supply than EO imagery, now we have discovered that the Imaginative and prescient Transformer (ViT) is a very efficient structure for illustration studying with SAR because it removes the size and shift invariant inductive biases constructed into convolutional neural networks. Our prime performing technique, MAERS, for illustration studying on RGB, SAR, and co-registered RGB + SAR builds upon the Masked Autoencoder (MAE) lately launched by He et. al., the place the community learns to encode the enter knowledge by taking a masked model of the information as enter, encoding the information, after which studying to decode the information in such a approach that it reconstructs the unmasked enter knowledge.

Opposite to well-liked courses of contrastive studying methods, the MAE doesn’t presuppose sure augmentation invariances within the knowledge which may be incorrect for SAR options. As an alternative, it solely depends on reconstructing the unique enter, which is agnostic to RGB, SAR, or co-registered modalities. As proven in Determine 8, MAERS additional extends MAE by studying impartial enter projection layers for RGB, SAR, and RGB+SAR channels, encoding the output of those projected layers utilizing a shared ViT, after which decoding to the RGB, SAR, or RGB+SAR channels utilizing impartial output projection layers. The enter projection layers and shared ViT can then be transferred to downstream duties, corresponding to object detection or change detection, the place the enter encoder can then take RGB, SAR, or RGB+SAR as enter.

Determine 8: (prime) A visualization of MAERS to study a joint illustration and encoder that can be utilized for a (backside) downstream job, corresponding to object detection on both, or each, modalities.

Studying representations for RGB, SAR, and co-registered modalities can profit a variety of downstream duties, corresponding to content-based picture retrieval, classification, segmentation, and detection. To exhibit the effectiveness of our realized representations, we carry out experiments on the well-established benchmarks of 1) multi-label classification of co-registered EO and SAR scenes from the BigEarthNet-MM dataset, and a pair of) semantic segmentation on the VHR EO and SAR SpaceNet 6 dataset.

Multi-Label Classification on BigEarth-MM

Determine 9: (left) co-registered Sentinel-2 EO and Sentinel-1 SAR imagery are patchified and used to carry out a multi-label classification job as specified by the BigEarth-MM problem. A linear layer is added to our multi-modal encoder after which fine-tuned end-to-end.

MAERS is initialized with a set of ImageNet weights for a ViT-Base encoder, adopted by pretraining on the BigEarthNet-MM dataset for 20 epochs with RGB, SAR, and RGB+SAR imagery. We append a single linear layer to the MAERS encoder and study the multi-label classification job by fine-tuning your entire mannequin for 20 epochs (linear probing experiments receive comparable outcomes, as we are going to present in our upcoming paper). Our outcomes are proven in Desk 1. MAERS with fine-tuning outperforms the very best RGB+SAR outcomes as offered within the BigEarthNet-MM paper, and present that adapting the State-of-the-Artwork MAE structure for illustration studying for RGB, SAR, and RGB+SAR enter modalities results in State-of-the-Artwork outcomes.

Desk 1: Reported per-class F2 scores on the take a look at set of BigEarthNet-MM.

Semantic Segmentation on VHR EO and SAR SpaceNet 6

We additional experimented with switch studying for a well timed job that can assist imagery analysts aiming to know the destruction in Ukraine: semantic segmentation of buildings footprints, which is a precursor job to performing constructing injury evaluation. Constructing injury evaluation is of direct curiosity to authorities officers, journalists, and human rights organizations aiming to know the scope and severity of Russia’s assaults in opposition to infrastructure and civilian populations.

Determine 10: Instance of constructing SAR-based MAERS segmentation taken from SpaceNet6, the place the picture on the left reveals the RGB picture, and the picture on the fitting reveals the SAR picture with overlaid segmentation outcomes. The SAR picture is displayed in false shade with VV, VH, and VV/VH bands.

For this experiment, we used the SpaceNet 6 dataset as an open and public benchmark as an example the effectiveness of our realized representations for constructing footprint detection with VHR SAR from Capella House. We used this encoder in tandem with the UperNet structure for semantic segmentation. Determine 11 reveals the IoU efficiency of segmenting constructing footprints in a held-out validation part of the SpaceNet 6 with solely SAR enter imagery, on a segmentation mannequin that was educated to make use of both SAR or RGB imagery. The MAERS pretrained mannequin results in a ~13 level enchancment in comparison with coaching the RGB+SAR mannequin from scratch or adapting ImageNet weights with the very same structure.

This demonstrates that MAERS can study sturdy RGB+SAR representations that permit a practitioner to make use of EO or SAR imagery interchangeably to perform downstream duties. It is very important word that the phenomenology of SAR imagery shouldn’t be totally conducive for constructing segmentation and that utilizing EO imagery for this job results in IoU scores > 90. This leaves a considerable hole but to be lined by SAR methods, one thing we hope to cowl in our following paper. Nevertheless, getting this efficiency out of SAR is crucial when environmental situations should not conducive to EO imagery seize.

Determine 11: Constructing segmentation IoU on the SpaceNet 6 Problem, utilizing an UperNet segmentation mannequin with a ViT spine. MAERS pretraining results in ~13 level achieve in IoU efficiency in comparison with coaching from scratch or adapting ImageNet pretrained weights.

These outcomes are preliminary, however compelling. We are going to observe up this effort with a publication with an in depth set of experiments and benchmarks. Moreover, we are going to assist within the transition of our fashions to our humanitarian companions to allow them to carry out change detection over residential and different civilian areas to allow higher monitoring of warfare crimes being dedicated in Ukraine.

These fashions are created with the purpose of accelerating the efficacy of organizations concerned in humanitarian missions which might be protecting a watchful eye on the warfare in Ukraine. Nevertheless, as with all expertise, it’s our accountability to know how this expertise might be misused. Subsequently, now we have designed these fashions with enter from companions who carry out intelligence and imagery evaluation in humanitarian settings. By bearing in mind their ideas, feedback, and critiques, we’re releasing a functionality we’re assured will likely be used for the nice of humanity and with processes which dictate their secure and accountable use.

Name to Motion

As residents of free democracies who develop applied sciences which assist us make sense of the sophisticated, chaotic, and counter-intuitive world that we stay in, now we have a accountability to behave when acts of injustice happen. Our colleagues and buddies in Ukraine are going through excessive uncertainties and hazard. We possess expertise within the cyber area that may assist within the struggle in opposition to Russian forces. By focusing our time and efforts, whether or not that be by way of focused analysis or volunteering our time in serving to hold monitor of processing occasions at border crossings, we are able to make a small dent in an in any other case tough scenario.

We urge our fellow pc scientists to accomplice with authorities and humanitarian organizations and take heed to their wants as tough occasions persist. Easy issues could make massive variations.

Mannequin and Weights

The fashions should not being made publicly accessible right now. We’re releasing our fashions to certified researchers and companions by way of this type. Full distribution will observe as soon as now we have accomplished an intensive evaluation of our fashions.


Thanks to Gen. Steve Butow and Dr. Nirav Patel on the Division of Protection’s Protection Innovation Unit for reviewing this submit and offering their experience on the way forward for industrial SAR constellations.



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