Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
School of Engineering
The field of machine learning, and, in particular, methods to improve the capability of machines to perform a wider variety of generalised tasks are among the most rapidly growing research areas in today’s world. The current applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence can be divided into many significant fields namely computer vision, data sciences, real time analytics and Natural Language Processing (NLP). All these applications are being used to help computer based systems to operate more usefully in everyday contexts. Computer vision research is currently active in a wide range of areas such as the development of autonomous vehicles, object recognition, Content Based Image Retrieval (CBIR), image segmentation and terrestrial analysis from space (i.e. crop estimation). Despite significant prior research, the area of object recognition still has many topics to be explored. This PhD thesis focuses on using advanced machine learning approaches to enable the automated recognition of fresh produce (i.e. fruits and vegetables) at supermarket self-checkouts. This type of complex classification task is one of the most recently emerging applications of advanced computer vision approaches and is a productive research topic in this field due to the limited means of representing the features and machine learning techniques for classification. Fruits and vegetables offer significant inter and intra class variance in weight, shape, size, colour and texture which makes the classification challenging.
The applications of effective fruit and vegetable classification have significant importance in daily life e.g. crop estimation, fruit classification, robotic harvesting, fruit quality assessment, etc. One potential application for this fruit and vegetable classification capability is for supermarket self-checkouts. Increasingly, supermarkets are introducing self-checkouts in stores to make the checkout process easier and faster. However, there are a number of challenges with this as all goods cannot readily be sold with packaging and barcodes, for instance loose fresh items (e.g. fruits and vegetables). Adding barcodes to these types of items individually is impractical and pre-packaging limits the freedom of choice when selecting fruits and vegetables and creates additional waste, hence reducing customer satisfaction. The current situation, which relies on customers correctly identifying produce themselves leaves open the potential for incorrect billing either due to inadvertent error, or due to intentional fraudulent misclassification resulting in financial losses for the store. To address this identified problem, the main goals of this PhD work are: (a) exploring the types of visual and non-visual sensors that could be incorporated into a self-checkout system for classification of fruits and vegetables, (b) determining a suitable feature representation method for fresh produce items available at supermarkets, (c) identifying optimal machine learning techniques for classification within this context and (d) evaluating our work relative to the state-of-the-art object classification results presented in the literature.
An in-depth analysis of related computer vision literature and techniques is performed to identify and implement the possible solutions. A progressive process distribution approach is used for this project where the task of computer vision based fruit and vegetables classification is divided into pre-processing and classification techniques. Different classification techniques have been implemented and evaluated as possible solution for this problem. Both visual and non-visual features of fruit and vegetables are exploited to perform the classification. Novel classification techniques have been carefully developed to deal with the complex and highly variant physical features of fruit and vegetables while taking advantages of both visual and non-visual features. The capability of classification techniques is tested in individual and ensemble manner to achieved the higher effectiveness.
Significant results have been obtained where it can be concluded that the fruit and vegetables classification is complex task with many challenges involved. It is also observed that a larger dataset can better comprehend the complex variant features of fruit and vegetables. Complex multidimensional features can be extracted from the larger datasets to generalise on higher number of classes. However, development of a larger multiclass dataset is an expensive and time consuming process. The effectiveness of classification techniques can be significantly improved by subtracting the background occlusions and complexities. It is also worth mentioning that ensemble of simple and less complicated classification techniques can achieve effective results even if applied to less number of features for smaller number of classes. The combination of visual and nonvisual features can reduce the struggle of a classification technique to deal with higher number of classes with similar physical features. Classification of fruit and vegetables with similar physical features (i.e. colour and texture) needs careful estimation and hyper-dimensional embedding of visual features. Implementing rigorous classification penalties as loss function can achieve this goal at the cost of time and computational requirements. There is a significant need to develop larger datasets for different fruit and vegetables related computer vision applications. Considering more sophisticated loss function penalties and discriminative hyper-dimensional features embedding techniques can significantly improve the effectiveness of the classification techniques for the fruit and vegetables applications.
Access to Chapter 3 of this thesis is not available.
Hameed, K. (2022). Computer vision based classification of fruits and vegetables for self-checkout at supermarkets. https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/2519