April 26, 2023

State-of-the-Art Instance Segmentation for Business: A Comprehensive Comparison

Today we will describe - from a business perspective - how to choose the right instance segmentation model for your needs and describe some of the most popular algorithms, comparing them in terms of applications, licensing, and industries where they work best.

Note: If you came here looking for advice on choosing an algorithm for your solution, please contact us directly via the form or mail: business@flyps.io.

How to choose right instance segmentation model

Choosing the right segmentation model for your application depends on various factors such as the type of problem, dataset size, computational resources, and desired model performance. Here are some key steps to help you choose the appropriate segmentation model for your application:

  1. Define the problem: Identify the type of segmentation task your application requires: semantic segmentation, instance segmentation, or panoptic segmentation.
  • Semantic segmentation: Classifying each pixel in an image to a specific class, without differentiating instances of the same class.
  • Instance segmentation: Identifying each instance of an object class in an image and segmenting it from the background and other objects.
  • Panoptic segmentation: Combining both semantic and instance segmentation in one unified task, aiming to assign a unique label to every pixel in an image.
  1. Assess dataset size and quality: Evaluate the size of your dataset and its annotation quality. A larger, high-quality dataset generally allows for more complex models to be trained effectively.
  2. Consider computational resources: Assess your available computational resources, such as GPU memory and processing power. Some models may require more resources than others, so choose a model that is feasible for your hardware.
  3. Review existing models: Research and compare existing state-of-the-art segmentation models for the specific task you are addressing. Popular models include:
  • Semantic segmentation: U-Net, SegNet, DeepLabv3, PSPNet, and FCN.
  • Instance segmentation: Mask R-CNN, YOLACT, and SOLO.
  • Panoptic segmentation: Panoptic FPN, UPSNet, and DETR.
  1. Model performance: Compare the performance of different models based on the metrics relevant to your task, such as Intersection over Union (IoU), mean IoU (mIoU), or average precision (AP). Consider the trade-off between model complexity, inference speed, and accuracy.
  2. Adaptability and customization: Some models are more flexible and easier to adapt to new datasets or tasks. Ensure that the model you choose can be easily customized or fine-tuned to fit your specific application requirements.
  3. Perform experiments: Test different models on your dataset and measure their performance. Fine-tune the models as necessary, and compare their performance to choose the one that best meets your requirements.
  4. Evaluate inference speed: In some cases, real-time or near-real-time processing may be required. In such situations, consider models that are optimized for fast inference, such as MobileNetV2 or EfficientNet.
  5. Check the license: it is worth looking at the licenses of the model we are considering, because not all of them are suitable for commercial use, even if they are open-sourced. In the case of a copyleft license, the user is obliged to publish his code for free - and this closes the way for most commercial projects.
Permissive open-source licenses, allowing free use, modification, and distribution of the software with minimal restrictions. Permissive open-source licenses may differ significantly, for example: Apache License 2.0 provides an explicit grant of patent rights from contributors to users, while the MIT License does not. 

Copyleft open-source license, requires that any modifications or derived works must also be released under the same AGPL-3.0 license. This enforces the open-source nature of the software, as anyone who modifies or creates derivative works must also make their changes freely available

By following these steps and considering the unique requirements of your application, you can make an informed decision about the best segmentation model to use.

Comparison of State-of-the-Art instance segmentation algorithms

Instance segmentation is a vital computer vision task that plays a key role in various business applications, from manufacturing to customer experience enhancement. In this blog post, we will delve into the top 5 state-of-the-art instance segmentation algorithms, including YOLOv8 , Mask R-CNN, Panoptic FPN, and YOLACT++. We will compare their architectures, purposes, key features, and applications in a comprehensive table, followed by a summary of the comparison. Lastly, we will identify the best business use cases for each algorithm to help you make an informed decision for your organization.

Algorithm Architecture Purpose Key Features Applications License
YOLOv8 CSPDarknet Object Detection
  1. Improved object detection
  2. Higher FPS
  3. Better localization
  1. Autonomous vehicles
  2. Drones
  3. Industrial automation
MIT License
Mask R-CNN ResNet Instance Segmentation
  1. Instance segmentation
  2. Bounding box detection
  3. Keypoint detection
  1. Medical imaging
  2. Robotics
  3. Augmented reality
MIT License
Panoptic FPN ResNet Panoptic Segmentation
  1. Unified framework
  2. Improved feature pyramid
  3. High accuracy
  1. Remote sensing
  2. Quality control
  3. Image editing
GNU GPL v3.0
YOLACT++ ResNet Instance Segmentation
  1. Real-time performance
  2. Direct instance segmentation
  3. High accuracy
  1. Video analytics
  2. Sports analytics
  3. Aerial imagery
Apache License 2.0
SOLOv2 ResNet Instance Segmentation
  1. Simpler architecture
  2. Direct instance segmentation
  3. High speed
  1. Retail Analytics
  2. Industrial automation
MIT License
SEGMENT ANYTHING MODEL Swin Transformer Semantic & instance segmentation
  1. Efficient training
  2. High accuracy
  3. Flexible for various tasks
  1. Image classification
  2. Visual search
  3. Content moderation
MIT License

CSP Darknet and ResNet

  • CSPDarknet is an advanced version of the Darknet architecture, which introduces the Cross-Stage Hierarchical (CSH) approach to improve the efficiency and performance of the neural network.

  • ResNet, short for Residual Network, is a popular deep learning architecture known for its ability to train very deep networks without experiencing the vanishing gradient problem.

Segment Anything Model

If you want to know more about this new model, check this link. And be sure to visit our blog regularly, for sure we’ll have something about Segment Anything Model in near future!

Towards the choosing of an instance-of-art algorithm.

The comparison reveals that each algorithm has its unique strengths and applications. YOLOv8 excels in object detection and is well-suited for applications that require real-time performance, such as autonomous vehicles, drones, and industrial automation. Mask R-CNN is a powerful instance segmentation algorithm, ideal for medical imaging, robotics, and augmented reality applications. Panoptic FPN provides a unified framework for panoptic segmentation and is particularly useful in remote sensing, quality control, and image editing. YOLACT++ offers real-time instance segmentation performance, making it suitable for video analytics, sports analytics, and aerial imagery applications. SOLOv2, with its simpler architecture and direct instance segmentation, is also well-suited for video analytics, sports analytics, and aerial imagery applications.

Best Business Use Cases for listed instance-of-art algorithms:

As businesses strive to leverage the power of artificial intelligence and computer vision, selecting the right algorithm for the job can be a daunting task. Let's explore the best business use cases for:

YOLOv8: Fast and Accurate Object Detection

a. Autonomous Vehicles: YOLOv8's real-time object detection and high accuracy make it an ideal choice for autonomous vehicles. It enables vehicles to identify and track objects in their vicinity, ensuring safe navigation and collision avoidance.

b. Drones: For drones utilized in surveillance, agriculture, or inspection tasks, YOLOv8 can help in detecting and tracking objects of interest, ensuring efficient and accurate data collection.

c. Industrial Automation: Manufacturing and warehouse management can benefit from YOLOv8 by automating object detection, tracking, and quality control, resulting in increased productivity and reduced operational costs.

Note: Check our blogpost, “A new YOLO is here - YOLOv8

Mask R-CNN: Powerful Instance Segmentation

a. Medical Imaging: Mask R-CNN can be employed to analyze medical images, such as MRIs and CT scans, to identify and segment various anatomical structures, enabling accurate diagnosis and treatment planning.

b. Robotics: In robotics, Mask R-CNN can be utilized for tasks like object manipulation, navigation, and human-robot interaction, helping robots understand and interact with their environment more effectively.

c. Augmented Reality: With its ability to segment objects in real-time, Mask R-CNN can enhance augmented reality applications by accurately identifying and tracking objects, allowing for a more immersive user experience.

Note: Check our case-study “Towards accelerating the performance of the vision project

Panoptic FPN: Unified Framework for Panoptic Segmentation

Best Business Use Cases:

a. Remote Sensing: Panoptic FPN can analyze satellite and aerial images to identify and segment various land features, such as roads, buildings, and vegetation, providing valuable insights for urban planning, disaster management, and environmental monitoring.

b. Quality Control: In manufacturing, Panoptic FPN can be used for quality control by detecting and segmenting defects in products, ensuring that only high-quality products reach the market.

c. Image Editing: Panoptic FPN can aid in image editing applications, such as background removal or object manipulation, by accurately segmenting objects and their boundaries.

YOLACT++: Real-time Instance Segmentation

Best Business Use Cases:

a. Video Analytics: YOLACT++ can be employed for real-time video analytics, enabling businesses to monitor and analyze live video feeds for security, traffic management, or customer behavior analysis.

b. Sports Analytics: In sports analytics, YOLACT++ can help in tracking player movements and ball trajectories, providing valuable insights for coaching and performance analysis.

c. Aerial Imagery: YOLACT++ can analyze aerial imagery for applications like urban planning, environmental monitoring, or agricultural management, by identifying and segmenting objects of interest.

SOLOv2: Simplified Architecture for High-speed Instance Segmentation

Best Business Use Cases:

a. Retail Analytics: Understanding Customer Behavior in retail environments, SOLOv2 can be used to analyze in-store video footage to understand customer behavior, preferences, and traffic patterns. By segmenting and tracking individual customers, businesses can gain insights into popular products, optimal store layouts, and effective marketing strategies, ultimately driving sales and customer satisfaction.

b. Industrial Automation: Quality Control and Object Tracking SOLOv2 can be employed in manufacturing and warehouse management to automate object detection, tracking, and quality control processes. Its ability to quickly and accurately segment objects enables businesses to monitor production lines, detect defects or anomalies, and track inventory, resulting in increased productivity and reduced operational costs.


Although we can indicate individual instance segmentation algorithms and describe their advantages and disadvantages, in fact, the choice of the appropriate algorithm depends on the project the organization is working on. Above, we have briefly described the capabilities of popular models, their strengths and popular applications, but this is only the beginning of the road.

Choosing this type of algorithm must be as precise as possible, because the success of the project will often depend on it.

That is why it is worth consulting with specialists who will recognize the needs and determine which algorithm to choose best (and also help with implementation, if necessary).

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