Detecting this outline is basically a very complex image segmentation task. We will use a special neural network for this purpose. Neural networks have recently shown great promise in a wide range of image processing applications, image segmentation is no exception in this regard. The main drawback when using neural networks for this purpose is the need for substantial amounts of data in order to train the networks. This problem is of particular concern for our application due to the difficulty in obtaining IR images of military vessels.
In order to alleviate this problem we have experimented with using alternatives to true IR images for the training of the neural networks. Although such data in no way can capture the exact nature of real IR images, they do capture the nature of IR images to a degree where they contribute substantially to the training and final performance of the neural network.