Self training YOLOv4

Original article was published on Deep Learning on Medium

YOLOv4 detection

Ever heard of the phrase “A.I. training A.I.” or “ a self learning AI” which is able to train itself and get better at it’s job in the course of time.

Well lets try to model this in a more realistic way. Suppose you have a trained an object detection model, now the model performs fairly well but you feel that it requires more training, but you are one of those unlucky ones who chooses to work on a topic which doesn’t have a dataset already built. Now what? You again have to create a new dataset for the new batch of training. Well your trained model is still generating some detection. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could store those detections in form labels and create your new dataset. Eventually this new dataset can be used to train your model further. Thus in a way the model could teach (train) itself to get better at its job.

With the new buzz in the YOLO community following the release of state of the art YOLOv4, I tried to implement this way of training for YOLOv4 (basically all the YOLO models should work with this)in its native Darknet framework. It was perfect, I had a pretrained YOLOv4 model so i used that to create a dataset to train this model further thereby enabling “self training” feature.

All the following codes can be found here:

The following are the steps to create the above mentioned dataset and retrain the YOLO model.

Clone the above repository with the Darknet submodule by executing the following command:

git clone --recurse-submodules cd artificialYOLOtrainer

If you already have the darknet built in your system then omit --recurse-submodules and put your darknet directory inside the artificialYOLOtrainer directory


OS Environment:

artificalYOLOtrainer has native support for linux OS (ubuntu 20.04) with python 3.8.2


There are some library dependencies : opencv-python, numpy, math, argparse, imutils, requests, os-sys.

You can install these libraries by executing the following command (recommended)

pip install -r requirements.txt

Building Darknet

If you already have darknet built in your system (which is mostlikey the case because the main use of artficialYOLOtrainer to generate datasets using pretrained YOLO weights for further training of the model) then the following steps are not required.

Note: Make sure you have your darknet (prebuilt) directory inside the artificialYOLOtrainer directory.

However if dont’t have darknet built in your system then cd in to the darknet directory and build darknet following AlexyAB’s guide

Now we have to set up obj.names and files in data directory inside darknet

obj.names: The obj.names should contain the following:

.... The should contain the following:

classes= <number of classes> 
train = ../train.txt
names = data/obj.names
backup = ../new_weight

The train.txt and text.txt contains the the paths of images for training and test respectively.They will be configured when we are done generating the labels for our dataset and ready to retrain the model.

The backup= ../new_weights is basically to store the checkpoints of the weights generated on further training. At this stage the new_weights directory should be empty. (even if you have darknet prebuilt then set the backup path to ../new_weights)

Configuring pretrained weights and cfg files

Put the pretrained yolo weights inside weights directory and yolo config files in cfg directory.

Gathering images for the new Dataset

The particular use case suggests that we create a custom dataset. This can be done by either mass downloading images from internet or by slicing frames from video files.

Code to mass download images from Google Images using JavaScript Console Window and python script.

This guide is based on The AI Guys’s tutorial

Steps to perform:

  • Query your intended Google search
  • Scroll down through images until they become unrelated to your query or until you’ve passed enough images for your dataset
  • Right click and hit “Inspect” and then navigate to “Console” tab
  • One by one enter the lines from console.js into the console window and run them
  • Move urls.txt containing the urls of the images from Downloads directory to artificialYOLOtrainer directory
  • The images will be downloaded in images directory
  • Run follwing python command as follows:
python3 --urls urls.txt --output images

You should now have all your images inside your images folder!

Note: you can also use google-images-download, ultimately we just need a whole lot of images in images directory.

Now we have to format the names of images following this convention

<name of dataset><Serial no.>.jpg

Run the following python command to do so.

python3 --input images/ --output dataset/ --name data

In place --name data pass the name of your own dataset, and be use it in place of data further on. After this you can see that the dataset directory will have images named as data1.jpg, data2.jpg ......

Code to slice frames from video file.

Run the following python command to do so.

python3 --input <video file> --output dataset/ --interval <int> --name data

Here --interval is the interval of frame slicing in seconds , --name flag is used for the naming convention After this we will see dataset directory has images named as data1.jpg, data2.jpg ......

Running Pretrained YOLO model on The new dataset

Now we have to run trained YOLO model to produce the labels of the new dataset that was created in dataset directory.

  • Generating the number list corresponding to the number of images in dataset Run the following python command to generate number list
python3 --start <staring serial no.> --end <ending serial number>

Here the <starting serial no.> is the number corresponding to the data1.jpg and <ending serial no.> that serial no. of last image in dataset.

This is will generate a output like this

1 2 3 4 5 6 . . . . . .

copy this list.

  • Configuring Open
cd darknet
for i in <num list>
./darknet detector test data/ ../cfg/<cfg file> \ ../weights/<weight file> -ext_output -dont_show \ ../dataset/data$i.jpg > ../dataset/data$i.txt\

Here is place of <num list> paste the list of numbers generated from, in place of <cfg file> put the name of the config file which is place in cfg directory, in place of <weight file put the name of the pretrained YOLO weights placed inside weights directory. If you use a different name for the dataset use that in place of data.

Now run the following commands (inside the parent directory):

chmod +x 

We will see the darknet load up multiple times and perform detections in the images of the dataset and store the detections in corresponding txt files in the dataset directory

Each text file will contain detections like :

net.optimized_memory = 0 
mini_batch = 1, batch = 64, time_steps = 1, train = 0
nms_kind: greedynms (1), beta = 0.600000
nms_kind: greedynms (1), beta = 0.600000
nms_kind: greedynms (1), beta = 0.600000

seen 64, trained: 644 K-images (10 Kilo-batches_64)
../data/images/20.jpg: Predicted in 61.628000 milli-seconds.
person: 89% (left_x: 438 top_y: 212 width: 20 height: 24)
car: 80% (left_x: 459 top_y: 340 width: 26 height: 32) mobile: 63% (left_x: 489 top_y: 239 width: 21 height: 28)
bag: 48% (left_x: 597 top_y: 212 width: 20 height: 25)

Now the first 8 lines of all these text files are not required so we have to delete them by running the following commands:

cd dataset
sed -i '1,8d' *.txt

After these all these text files storing labels becomes like this:

person: 89%	(left_x: 438 top_y: 212 width: 20 height: 24) 
car: 80% (left_x: 459 top_y: 340 width: 26 height: 32) mobile: 63% (left_x: 489 top_y: 239 width: 21 height: 28)
bag: 48% (left_x: 597 top_y: 212 width: 20 height: 25)
  • Converting to YOLO labels format

The detections stored in the text file needs to be converted to the YOLO label format for this we have to configure

for i in  <num list>
python3 --image dataset/data$i.jpg --text \ dataset/data$i.txt > dataset/data$i.txt \

Here in place of <num list> paste the number list generated by and in places of data put your name of images (only if a differenr name for the dataset was used).

Now we have to run this script by running following commands:

chmod +x 

After this script completes running all the labels in the YOLO format will be stored in the dataset directory.

Thus we successfully created the dataset!!!

Retraining the model using our dataset

To train the model using the new dataset run the following commands.


Note : change train=../train.txt in if not already done.

cd darknet ./darknet detector train data/ ../cfg/<your cfg  file> ../weights/<your pretrained weight file>

You should find the checkpoints of the weights being stored in the new_weights directory.

If you artificialYOLOtraininer in your work please cite:

Biparnak Roy. Artifical YOLO Trainer., 2020.