AI Meets Imagery in the xView 2018 Detection Challenge

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The private sector has excelled at creating innovative AI solutions ranging from self-driving cars to chatbots, to voice recognition and sophisticated security technology. As a result, the Department of Defense has a growing interest in acquiring similarly advanced technologies to help interpret aerial photography. From this desire grew a contest with a $100k prize offered by the Pentagon known as the xView 2018 Detection Challenge.

According to the official website, “xView is one of the largest publicly available datasets of overhead imagery.” The challenge is run by Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) in partnership with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. DIUx’s mission is to accelerate innovation via the commercial sector in order to solve national defense problems. This challenge is an extension of that mission by calling on talented individuals to put their skills to use in service to the United States.

The contest is designed to promote progress in four key areas including: reducing the resolution required for programs to detect features of interest, improve AI learning efficiency, allow machines to discover more classes of objects, and enable programs to better detect fine-grained classes.

The AI solutions that emerge from the challenge will be utilized for national security as well as disaster response programs and preparedness. For example, applications of this technology could include identifying terrain features and objects of interest when responding to needs after a hurricane or other natural disaster. If this process can be automated, it would speed up the process of identifying objects of interest and free manpower to be put to use in other areas of disaster response.

The xView 2018 Detection Challenge will officially launch in March and end in May with incentive checkpoints during the intervening time period, followed by a workshop in June. Please see the xView 2018 Detection Challenge website for more information or to sign up to participate.

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