(accepted) Analysis of Training Object Detection Models with Synthetic Data

Published in BMVC: British Machine Vision Conference, 2022

Recently, the use of synthetic training data has been on the rise as it offers correctly labelled datasets at a lower cost. The downside of this technique is that the so-called domain gap between the real target images and synthetic training data leads to a decrease in performance. In this paper, we attempt to provide a holistic overview of how to use synthetic data for object detection. We analyse aspects of generating the data as well as techniques used to train the models. We do so by devising a number of experiments, training models on the Dataset of Industrial Metal Objects (DIMO). This dataset contains both real and synthetic images. The synthetic part has different subsets that are either exact synthetic copies of the real data or are copies with certain aspects randomised. This allows us to analyse what types of variation are good for synthetic training data and which aspects should be modelled to closely match the target data. Furthermore, we investigate what types of training techniques are beneficial towards generalisation to real data, and how to use them. Additionally, we analyse how real images can be leveraged when training on synthetic images. All these experiments are validated on real data and benchmarked to models trained on real data. The results offer a number of interesting takeaways that can serve as basic guidelines for using synthetic data for object detection. Code to reproduce results is available at https://github.com/EDM-Research/DIMO_ObjectDetection.