RoadTagger: Robust Road Attribute Inference with Graph Neural Networks

  • Songtao He MIT CSAIL
  • Favyen Bastani MIT CSAIL
  • Satvat Jagwani MIT CSAIL
  • Edward Park MIT CSAIL
  • Sofiane Abbar QCRI
  • Mohammad Alizadeh MIT CSAIL
  • Hari Balakrishnan MIT CSAIL
  • Sanjay Chawla QCRI
  • Samuel Madden MIT CSAIL
  • Mohammad Amin Sadeghi University of Tehran


Inferring road attributes such as lane count and road type from satellite imagery is challenging. Often, due to the occlusion in satellite imagery and the spatial correlation of road attributes, a road attribute at one position on a road may only be apparent when considering far-away segments of the road. Thus, to robustly infer road attributes, the model must integrate scattered information and capture the spatial correlation of features along roads. Existing solutions that rely on image classifiers fail to capture this correlation, resulting in poor accuracy. We find this failure is caused by a fundamental limitation – the limited effective receptive field of image classifiers.

To overcome this limitation, we propose RoadTagger, an end-to-end architecture which combines both Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) and Graph Neural Networks (GNNs) to infer road attributes. Using a GNN allows information to propagate on the road network graph and eliminates the receptive field limitation of image classifiers. We evaluate RoadTagger on both a large real-world dataset covering 688 km2 area in 20 U.S. cities and a synthesized dataset. In the evaluation, RoadTagger improves inference accuracy over the CNN image classifier based approaches. In addition, RoadTagger is robust to disruptions in the satellite imagery and is able to learn complicated inductive rules for aggregating scattered information along the road network.

AAAI Technical Track: Vision