Object-Based Semi-Supervised Spatial Attention Residual UNet for Urban High-Resolution Remote Sensing Image Classification

Yuanbing Lu, Huapeng Li, Ce Zhang, Shuqing Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Accurate urban land cover information is crucial for effective urban planning and management. While convolutional neural networks (CNNs) demonstrate superior feature learning and prediction capabilities using image-level annotations, the inherent mixed-category nature of input image patches leads to classification errors along object boundaries. Fully convolutional neural networks (FCNs) excel at pixel-wise fine segmentation, making them less susceptible to heterogeneous content, but they require fully annotated dense image patches, which may not be readily available in real-world scenarios. This paper proposes an object-based semi-supervised spatial attention residual UNet (OS-ARU) model. First, multiscale segmentation is performed to obtain segments from a remote sensing image, and segments containing sample points are assigned the categories of the corresponding points, which are used to train the model. Then, the trained model predicts class probabilities for all segments. Each unlabeled segment’s probability distribution is compared against those of labeled segments for similarity matching under a threshold constraint. Through label propagation, pseudo-labels are assigned to unlabeled segments exhibiting high similarity to labeled ones. Finally, the model is retrained using the augmented training set incorporating the pseudo-labeled segments. Comprehensive experiments on aerial image benchmarks for Vaihingen and Potsdam demonstrate that the proposed OS-ARU achieves higher classification accuracy than state-of-the-art models, including OCNN, 2OCNN, and standard OS-U, reaching an overall accuracy (OA) of 87.83% and 86.71%, respectively. The performance improvements over the baseline methods are statistically significant according to the Wilcoxon Signed-Rank Test. Despite using significantly fewer sparse annotations, this semi-supervised approach still achieves comparable accuracy to the same model under full supervision. The proposed method thus makes a step forward in substantially alleviating the heavy sampling burden of FCNs (densely sampled deep learning models) to effectively handle the complex issue of land cover information identification and classification.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1444
Number of pages31
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

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© 2024 by the authors.


  • CNN
  • OBIA
  • UNet
  • semi-supervised
  • semantic segmentation
  • classification


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