YOLO – Where Have All the Airplanes Gone?

My 4-year-old pointed to the sky in the future and requested, why don’t we see airplanes flying over our home these days? (10 Little Airplanes (1) is his favourite counting rhyme). I confirmed him the under image and defined that airplanes are grounded attributable to COVID19. He began counting the plane within the image. Well, what’s your depend?

Delta Air Lines jets parked in Victorville, California, on March 28. Source: AirWorkforceImages

As a Data Science practitioner, an issue assertion surfaced – Can we depend the variety of airplanes parked throughout varied places globally. With assist from my colleague(2), we got down to sew a fast however environment friendly deep studying answer that may depend airplanes from satellite tv for pc photographs. The answer needed to carry out two operations – Object detection and classification. 

Step # 1 – Getting the Data: We scouted for accessible satellite tv for pc imagery that was taken after March 2020. A fast Google picture search gave us no satellite tv for pc photographs that coated airports or airplane parking heaps worldwide. We opted to assemble satellite tv for pc photographs from 20 airports globally from Maxar Technologies.(3)

Step # 2 – Preparing the Data

To reduce the trouble we put money into creating coaching knowledge for mannequin constructing, we scouted for labeled knowledge of airplanes. We discovered two sources with labeled knowledge a) CGI Planes in Satellite Imagery w/BBoxes(4). This contained satellite tv for pc photographs of planes flying within the air and b) DOTA V1.5 gallery(5). This included photos of plane parked on the bottom. 

Figure: Images of satellite tv for pc imagery obtained from the Kaggle CGI aircraft dataset. 

Figure: Images of satellite tv for pc imagery obtained from the DOTA-v1.5. 

Step # 3 – Building the Model

YOLO v4(6) literature talks about state-of-the-art strategies CBN and PAN that make it extra environment friendly and appropriate for single GPU coaching. We wished to construct an airplane detection mannequin that mixes the facility of YOLO v4 and switch studying. We got down to accomplish this with minimal hyper-parameter tuning. We took a pre-trained mannequin skilled on the ImageNet dataset and used switch studying to coach the satellite tv for pc picture knowledge.

The first iteration of coaching was achieved on the CGI dataset with 500 photographs (400 to 100 cut up). The skilled mannequin was examined on the complete satellite tv for pc imagery that we collected. 

For the second iteration, we skilled the mannequin on the DOTA V1.5 dataset with 200 photographs. The retrained mannequin was examined on the complete satellite tv for pc dataset once more. 

Training concerns

  1. A GPU laptop computer with Nvidia GTX 1070 graphics card, eight GB VRAM/ GDDR5
  2. It took about 6 hours from begin to end. The pace of execution may be attributed to the switch studying strategy utilized to the customized dataset
  3. The weights have been skilled on the ImageNet dataset
  4. The top and width of every picture was 608×608 pixel
  5. The coaching was achieved on 3000 epochs
  6. We thought of the objects as planes for whose confidence rating was larger than 0.2.

Step # 4 – Result Time

We thought of recall because the analysis metric because the mannequin’s precision was fairly good. When the mannequin was skilled on the CGI dataset, the recall was 70%. When the mannequin was retrained on DOTA V1.5 photographs, the recall jumped to 83.4%. The code repository (7) incorporates the configuration and weights we used within the mannequin. 

Here’s the pattern output of airplanes tagged appropriately by mannequin:

Figure: Output of the mannequin on Schiphol Airport Satellite picture ©2020 Maxar Technologies.

See Also

Figure: Output of the mannequin on Phoenix Airport. Satellite picture ©2020 Maxar Technologies.

The mannequin did not establish airplanes with acceptable confidence within the following conditions:

  1. The airplane’s shadow was distinguished
  2. The floor shade and the airplane shade have been  a detailed match
  3. Airplanes that have been parked in a row and too shut to one another
Figure: Output of the mannequin on Abu Dhabi, Victorville, and Hongkong Airport. Satellite picture ©2020 Maxar Technologies.

This brief pilot demonstrates the potential of Transfer Learning to expedite AI-based answer constructing far lesser computation and prices. 

With a depressing outlook for the worldwide airline trade, the one ones seeing a enterprise growth are the airplane storage service suppliers, proper from California and France to Australia. 

“I heard an airplane passing overhead. I wished I was on it.”

Charles Bukowski

Answer time – No.of planes within the first image is 74


  1. 10 little Airplanes – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNRNAloCb5Y
  2. Nanda Kishore – https://www.linkedin.com/in/nanda-kishore-mallapragada-91b73864/
  3. Maxar Technologies – https://www.maxar.com/
  4. CGI Planes in Satellite photographs – 


  1. DOTA-v1.5 – https://captain-whu.github.io/DOAI2019/dataset.html
  2. YOLO – https://github.com/AlexeyAB/darknet
  3. Code Repository – https://github.com/gramener/planecounting

If you really liked this story, do be part of our Telegram Community.

Also, you may write for us and be one of many 500+ specialists who’ve contributed tales at AIM. Share your nominations here.

Sundeep Reddy Mallu

Sundeep Reddy Mallu

Sundeep heads the Analytics & Hiring groups at Gramener, an information science firm that solves enterprise issues by conveying insights as knowledge tales. Sundeep advises enterprise executives on knowledge science and helps them speed up digital transformation via Advanced Analytics methods. He is passionate concerning the convergence of data-driven enterprise management, AI/ML adoption throughout industries, AI ethics, and knowledge privateness. As TA head he drives the hunt for nice knowledge science group gamers throughout industries and campuses and attracts them to hitch group Gramener.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here