Automatically monitoring driftwood in large rivers: preliminary results

Friday, 19 December 2014
Pierre Lemaire1, Hervé Piegay1, Bruce J MacVicar2, Christine Mouquet-Noppe1 and Laure Tougne3, (1)University of Lyon, CNRS UMR 5600, Lyon, France, (2)University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada, (3)University of Lyon, CNRS UMR 5205, Lyon, France
Driftwood in rivers impact sediment transport, riverine habitat and human infrastructures. Quantifying it, in particular large woods on fairly large rivers where it can move easily, would allow us to improve our knowledge on fluvial transport processes. There are several means of studying this phenomenon, amongst which RFID sensors tracking, photo and video monitoring. In this abstract, we are interested in the latter, being easier and cheaper to deploy. However, video monitoring of driftwood generates a huge amount of images and manually labeling it is tedious. It is essential to automate such a monitoring process, which is a difficult task in the field of computer vision, and more specifically automatic video analysis. Detecting foreground into dynamic background remains an open problem to date.
We installed a video camera at the riverside of a gauging station on the Ain River, a 3500 km² Piedmont River in France. Several floods were manually annotated by a human operator. We developed software that automatically extracts and characterizes wood blocks within a video stream. This algorithm is based upon a statistical model and combines static, dynamic and spatial data. Segmented wood objects are further described with the help of a skeleton-based approach that helps us to automatically determine its shape, diameter and length.
The first detailed comparisons between manual annotations and automatically extracted data show that we can fairly well detect large wood until a given size (approximately 120 cm in length or 15 cm in diameter) whereas smaller ones are difficult to detect and tend to be missed by either the human operator, either the algorithm. Detection is fairly accurate in high flow conditions where the water channel is usually brown because of suspended sediment transport. In low flow context, our algorithm still needs improvement to reduce the number of false positive so as to better distinguish shadow or turbulence structures from wood pieces.