Development of a Deep-Learning Model with Maritime Environment Simulation for Detection of Distress Ships from Drone Images

Jeonghyo Oh, Juhee Lee, Euiik Jeon, Impyeong Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the context of maritime emergencies, the utilization of drones has rapidly increased, with a particular focus on their application in search and rescue operations. Deep learning models utilizing drone images for the rapid detection of distressed vessels and other maritime drift objects are gaining attention. However, effective training of such models necessitates a substantial amount of diverse training data that considers various weather conditions and vessel states. The lack of such data can lead to a degradation in the performance of trained models. This study aims to enhance the performance of deep learning models for distress ship detection by developing a maritime environment simulator to augment the dataset. The simulator allows for the configuration of various weather conditions, vessel states such as sinking or capsizing, and specifications and characteristics of drones and sensors. Training the deep learning model with the dataset generated through simulation resulted in improved detection performance, including accuracy and recall, when compared to models trained solely on actual drone image datasets. In particular, the accuracy of distress ship detection in adverse weather conditions, such as rain or fog, increased by approximately 2–5%, with a significant reduction in the rate of undetected instances. These results demonstrate the practical and effective contribution of the developed simulator in simulating diverse scenarios for model training. Furthermore, the distress ship detection deep learning model based on this approach is expected to be efficiently applied in maritime search and rescue operations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1451-1466
Number of pages16
JournalKorean Journal of Remote Sensing
Issue number6-1
StatePublished - 2023


  • Drones
  • Marine search and rescue
  • Ship detection
  • Simulation


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