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Short Paper Proc. of Int. Conf.

on Advances in Computing, Control, and Telecommunication Technologies 2011

Car Plate Segmentation Based on Morphological and Labeling Approach


Seyed Mojtaba Mousavi, Seyed Omid Shahdi, and S.A.R. Abu-Bakar
Computer Vision, Video and Image Processing Research Lab Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia 81310, Skudai, Johor, Malaysia {mosavi, shahdi}@fkegraduate.utm.my, syed@fke.utm.my
AbstractAutomatic car plate extraction is one of the interesting research areas in surveillance applications such as traffic control, parking lot and detection of stolen vehicles. This topic is divided in two main parts, firstly license plate localization, and secondly, license plate characters recognition. In this paper merely the first part is taken into consideration by means of morphological operations and labeling algorithm. Moreover, performance of proposed method is investigated to unveil the ability in extracting of the license plate. Space between characters and also height and width of the license plate are fundamental issues in morphological operations along with dimension of characters in labeling algorithm. Results for this method are promising even in tough conditions. Index TermsSobel edge detection, morphological operation, labeling

I. INTRODUCTION Nowadays, the fast pace of modern life style has changed many surrounding products and systems from manually to automatic. In this regard, speed of operation process and accuracy are important. To achieve these goals, there are many methods which help human. One of most useful device is computer vision system. Image processing gives us the opportunities that use a computer instead of a human as a supervisor [1]. In field of automation, image processing also plays a very substantial role in the car and traffic control problems. For instance, image processing techniques could be useful for recognizing and identifying the car plate number and applying for some time consuming and hard manually tasks such as the scenario in multi storey parking lot ticket at high traffic flow [2]. Popularity and usefulness of automatic car plate number recognition motivate many researchers to improve and develop many methods to increase the accuracy and also decrease the processing time. The whole process can be divided into two main parts, first car plate number extraction and then recognition of characters included in car plate and identifying the license. Aim of this paper is confined to extract the car plate characters. Although too many methods are implemented in this area of research, most of them are applicable for some certain types of car plate characters. For example, in [3] to extract the car plate characters, it is considered the plates color is yellow and the color extraction process is done by searching for only yellow color. Nonetheless, input image including yellow color objects can degrade the accuracy results drastically. 2011 ACEEE DOI: 02.ACT.2011.03.26 84

There are some drawbacks with the previous popular methods to locate the car license plate. One of these method is Template matching. The problem in methods which utilize Template matching [4, 5] is its requirement for high processing time and also its variation due to the scaling. The other common used method in this area is Hough Transform [5, 6]. However, by using this method, the clear license plate location could not be provided since it does not remove all non-plate regions. Besides, Hough transform is not reliable for detecting vertical lines due the fact that these lines are more sensitive to noise. The Brazilian license plates were localized by the proposed method in [7]. This method was based on detecting the vertical edges of grayscale input image. Besides, combination of region growing method and fuzzy logic based thresholding algorithm is employed in this method to segment the characters. Ozbay et al. [8] proposed the method to recognize Turkish license plate. Their method mainly consists of three parts including plate region extraction, characters segmentation and character recognition. They applied edge detection to extract the plate region. Then, smearing, filtering and morphological algorithms are utilized for segmenting the characters. Finally template matching algorithm is used for character recognition. The utilized method in [9] for both license plate extraction and character recognition is based on 4 layers back propagation neural network. This paper used license plate regulation such as shape, color and characters pattern for extracting the plate of this region. And in these papers [1017] different character recognition algorithms are used without utilizing license plate localization. In this paper, the mixtures of two methods are utilized. One of them is to apply the labeling procedure while the other one employs morphological method to accomplish this task. The remainder of this paper is arranged as follows. The overview of proposed system for plate localization is given in section 2. In section 3, basic concepts of labeling and morphological operations are introduced. The experimental results are presented in section 4. Finally in the last section, conclusion is provided. II. PROPOSED METHODS In this paper, labeling and morphological operations are utilized in order to segment the car license plate. Composition of these two methods is important since it increases the accuracy when different sort of car plate characters are penetrated into the system. This fact is due to the elimination

Short Paper Proc. of Int. Conf. on Advances in Computing, Control, and Telecommunication Technologies 2011 of unwanted area by using labeling beforehand of morphological operation. The whole process is depicted in Fig. 1. III. CAR LICENSE PLATE SEGMENTATION In this section, labeling and morphological are discussed individually in details. Nonetheless, beforehand of these operations the pre-processing step should be taken into account to alleviate the affects of noises and intensive illumination variations. For this purpose, Gaussian filter is utilized which is experimentally outperforms other filters. A. Labeling Operation Labelling of the connected component is one of the fundamental operations in many intelligent vision systems. This operation works on binary images by allocating an individual values to pixels that belong to the same connected area. Two widespread types of labelling are 4-connected and 8-connected neighbours. In Fig. 2 these two topologies are depicted. This operation is based on labeling and then classifying of labeled objects with relation to their sizes. The original image is necessary to convert into the gray-scale image in case of color image (Fig. 3 (a)). Then the segmented image can be achieved by means of automatic global thresholding and binarizing (Fig. 3 (b)). It should be noticed that in our database, all the license plate characters have a white color and this point make the thresholding procedure easier. The labeling results are depicted in Fig. 4 (a). As it could be perceived from Fig. 4 (a), making use of solely labeling is not accurate enough to localize the place of license plate. Because after labeling operation, some comparable regions along with the characters in license plate area are still remained. Hence, morphological operation is necessary to fulfill plate localization successfully. B. Morphological Based Method The morphological operations duty is to apply on the labeled image. In labeled image the morphological procedures are employed to fill the gaps between characters for making the rectangular regions. The morphological operations consist of three main sets, namely opening, closing and dilating. The input of this part is emerged from the output of labeling phase. By using sequence of morphological operations, the region of interest (ROI) is kept and the rests are eliminated. These operations consist of following steps to attain the segmented car plate area or ROI: In the first step, line opening is employed since the labeling output, contains many horizontal lines that have relatively smaller thickness in comparison with height of characters in car plate as depicted in Fig. 4(a). These undesirable lines could be removed by performing this step as the result is shown in Fig. 4(b). In the second step, rectangle closing is applied to retain the characters which are closed to each other, similar to the condition within the characters in the car plate license as its procedure is demonstrated in Fig. 5(a). By iterating above steps, the only region which is kept is the car plate region in such a way that the undesirable regions become smaller and in contrast the plate region becomes bigger eventually. The illustrative procedure is shown in Fig. 5(b).

Figure 3. (a) Original gray car image, (b) Binarized image

Figure 4. (a) Labeled image, (b) Vertical opening Figure 1. Overview of proposed method

Figure 2. Different connected neighbors: (a) 4-connectedneighbor. (b) 8-connected

At the next step, the dilation is carried out in order to reconstruct the car plate region into its primitive size. For further clarification on this issue, refer to Fig. 6(a). At last stage, it is necessary to employ another step of labeling for trimming and further clarifying the place of car plate and removing analogous area which are not the car plate as shown in Fig. 6 (b). Finally the plate characters can be detected by subtracting the last result of morphological procedure from binarized image. The subtracted image is presented in Fig. 7. 85

2011 ACEEE DOI: 02.ACT.2011.03.26

Short Paper Proc. of Int. Conf. on Advances in Computing, Control, and Telecommunication Technologies 2011 IV. EXPERIMENTAL RESULT The experiments are conducted by using Intel core 2 Duo CPU with 4GB RAM on board. From software point of view, we utilize MATLAB programming environment version R2009b. In this section, the database and details on experimental results are given. A. Database The database used here as an experimental tool contains cars with the Malaysian license plates. It includes 290 numbers of images which are taken in uncontrolled conditions such as in different illuminations, variable location of car plate in an image, different sizes of characters within a license plate, both single row and double row license plate and some of occlusions besides car plates. These characteristics make our task even more challenging. All the initial images have the standard size 384288 pixels. Some samples from this database are depicted in Fig. 8. B. Experimental Results After penetrating image into the system, labeling and morphology operations are applied as thoroughly described in section 3. However, it is necessary to employ another step of labeling for trimming and further clarifying the place of car plate and removing analogous area which are not the car plate as some instances are shown in Fig. 6. Our system is employed on the aforementioned database to investigate the robustness of our proposed method. The overall accuracy result is 95.5%, in other words, 277 out of 290 cars license plates are successfully segmented regarding severe conditions which are included in our database. Some of the results with these conditions are shown in Fig. 8. CONCLUSION In this work, we cope with the challenges in segmentation of car plate license in variety of conditions. Both morphological and labeling are utilized in order to come up with this task. The outstanding benefit for morphological and labeling operations is their ability to segment car plate much faster in comparison with systems which employ neural network or other complex algorithms. Our results proof the robustness of our method against real world conditions by providing satisfactory results in almost whole of the employed database. It is further desired to select the thresholds using an effective genetic algorithm which is our plan for future work. ACKNOWLEDGMENT This work was supported by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) under Research University Grant Q.J13000.7123.00H53 REFERENCES
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Figure 5. (a) Rectangular closing, (b) Iterating opening and closing

Figure 6. (a) Dilated image, (b) Localized license plate

Figure 7. Extracted license plate

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Short Paper Proc. of Int. Conf. on Advances in Computing, Control, and Telecommunication Technologies 2011

Figure 8. Successfully segmented car plate

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