Real-Time Apple Detection System Using Embedded Systems With Hardware Accelerators: An Edge AI Application

Vittorio Mazzia, Francesco Salvetti, Aleem Khaliq, Marcello Chiaberge

Real-time apple detection in orchards is one of the most effective ways of estimating apple yields, which helps in managing apple supplies more effectively. Traditional detection methods used highly computational machine learning algorithms with intensive hardware set up, which are not suitable for infield real-time apple detection due to their weight and power constraints. In this study, a real-time embedded solution inspired from "Edge AI" is proposed for apple detection with the implementation of YOLOv3-tiny algorithm on various embedded platforms such as Raspberry Pi 3 B+ in combination with Intel Movidius Neural Computing Stick (NCS), Nvidia's Jetson Nano and Jetson AGX Xavier. Data set for training were compiled using acquired images during field survey of apple orchard situated in the north region of Italy, and images used for testing were taken from widely used google data set by filtering out the images containing apples in different scenes to ensure the robustness of the algorithm. The proposed study adapts YOLOv3-tiny architecture to detect small objects. It shows the feasibility of deployment of the customized model on cheap and power-efficient embedded hardware without compromising mean average detection accuracy (83.64%) and achieved frame rate up to 30 fps even for the difficult scenarios such as overlapping apples, complex background, less exposure of apple due to leaves and branches. Furthermore, the proposed embedded solution can be deployed on the unmanned ground vehicles to detect, count, and measure the size of the apples in real-time to help the farmers and agronomists in their decision making and management skills.

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