The detection performance of small objects in remote sensing images has not been satisfactory compared to large objects, especially in low-resolution and noisy images. A generative adversarial network (GAN)-based model called enhanced super-resolution GAN (ESRGAN) showed remarkable image enhancement performance, but reconstructed images usually miss high-frequency edge information. Therefore, object detection performance showed degradation for small objects on recovered noisy and low-resolution remote sensing images. Inspired by the success of edge enhanced GAN (EEGAN) and ESRGAN, we applied a new edge-enhanced super-resolution GAN (EESRGAN) to improve the quality of remote sensing images and used different detector networks in an end-to-end manner where detector loss was backpropagated into the EESRGAN to improve the detection performance. We proposed an architecture with three components: ESRGAN, EEN, and Detection network. We used residual-in-residual dense blocks (RRDB) for both the ESRGAN and EEN, and for the detector network, we used a faster region-based convolutional network (FRCNN) (two-stage detector) and a single-shot multibox detector (SSD) (one stage detector). Extensive experiments on a public (car overhead with context) dataset and another self-assembled (oil and gas storage tank) satellite dataset showed superior performance of our method compared to the standalone state-of-the-art object detectors.
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