Soukup, D., Kapeller, C., Raml, B., & Ruisz, J. (2022). Industry-Fit AI Usage for Crack Detection in Ground Steel. Electronics, 11(17), Article 2643. https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics11172643
We investigated optimal implementation strategies for industrial inspection systems aiming to detect cracks on ground steel billets’ surfaces by combining state-of-the-art AI-based methods and classical computational imaging techniques. In 2D texture images, the interesting patterns of surface irregularities are often surrounded by visual clutter, which is to be ignored, e.g., grinding patterns. Even neural networks struggle to reliably distinguish between actual surface disruptions and irrelevant background patterns. Consequently, the image acquisition procedure already has to be optimised to the specific application. In our case, we use photometric stereo (PS) imaging to generate 3D surface models of steel billets using multiple illumination units. However, we demonstrate that the neural networks, especially in high-speed scenarios, still suffer from recognition deficiencies when using raw photometric stereo camera data, and are unable to generalise to new billets and image acquisition conditions. Only the additional application of adequate state-of-the-art image processing algorithms guarantees the best results in both aspects. The neural networks benefit when appropriate image acquisition methods together with image processing algorithms emphasise relevant surface structures and reduce overall pattern variation. Our proposed combined strategy shows a 9.25% better detection rate on validation data and is 14.7% better on test data, displaying the best generalisation.