A framework for automatic feature extraction from airborne light detection and ranging data

Jianhua Yan, Florida International University


Recent advances in airborne Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology allow rapid and inexpensive measurements of topography over large areas. Airborne LIDAR systems usually return a 3-dimensional cloud of point measurements from reflective objects scanned by the laser beneath the flight path. This technology is becoming a primary method for extracting information of different kinds of geometrical objects, such as high-resolution digital terrain models (DTMs), buildings and trees, etc. In the past decade, LIDAR gets more and more interest from researchers in the field of remote sensing and GIS. Compared to the traditional data sources, such as aerial photography and satellite images, LIDAR measurements are not influenced by sun shadow and relief displacement. However, voluminous data pose a new challenge for automated extraction the geometrical information from LIDAR measurements because many raster image processing techniques cannot be directly applied to irregularly spaced LIDAR points. In this dissertation, a framework is proposed to filter out information about different kinds of geometrical objects, such as terrain and buildings from LIDAR automatically. They are essential to numerous applications such as flood modeling, landslide prediction and hurricane animation. The framework consists of several intuitive algorithms. Firstly, a progressive morphological filter was developed to detect non-ground LIDAR measurements. By gradually increasing the window size and elevation difference threshold of the filter, the measurements of vehicles, vegetation, and buildings are removed, while ground data are preserved. Then, building measurements are identified from no-ground measurements using a region growing algorithm based on the plane-fitting technique. Raw footprints for segmented building measurements are derived by connecting boundary points and are further simplified and adjusted by several proposed operations to remove noise, which is caused by irregularly spaced LIDAR measurements. To reconstruct 3D building models, the raw 2D topology of each building is first extracted and then further adjusted. Since the adjusting operations for simple building models do not work well on 2D topology, 2D snake algorithm is proposed to adjust 2D topology. The 2D snake algorithm consists of newly defined energy functions for topology adjusting and a linear algorithm to find the minimal energy value of 2D snake problems. Data sets from urbanized areas including large institutional, commercial, and small residential buildings were employed to test the proposed framework. The results demonstrated that the proposed framework achieves a very good performance.

Subject Area

Electrical engineering|Remote sensing|Computer science

Recommended Citation

Yan, Jianhua, "A framework for automatic feature extraction from airborne light detection and ranging data" (2007). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3279239.