Road networks play a significant role in modern city management. It is necessary to continually extract current road structure, as it changes rapidly with the development of the city. Due to the success of semantic segmentation based on deep learning in the application of computer vision, extracting road networks from VHR (Very High Resolution) imagery becomes a method of updating geographic databases. The major shortcoming of deep learning methods for road networks extraction is that they need a massive amount of high quality pixel-wise training datasets, which is hard to obtain. Meanwhile, a large amount of different types of VGI (volunteer geographic information) data including road centerline has been accumulated in the past few decades. However, most road centerlines in VGI data lack precise width information and, therefore, cannot be directly applied to conventional supervised deep learning models. In this paper, we propose a novel weakly supervised method to extract road networks from VHR images using only the OSM (OpenStreetMap) road centerline as training data instead of high quality pixel-wise road width label. Large amounts of paired Google Earth images and OSM data are used to validate the approach. The results show that the proposed method can extract road networks from the VHR images both accurately and effectively without using pixel-wise road training data.
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