The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume XLI-B3
09 Jun 2016
 | 09 Jun 2016


Serkan Ural and Jie Shan

Keywords: LiDAR, graph-cuts, ground filtering, classification, optimization

Abstract. LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is a routinely employed technology as a 3-D data collection technique for topographic mapping. Conventional workflows for analyzing LiDAR data require the ground to be determined prior to extracting other features of interest. Filtering the terrain points is one of the fundamental processes to acquire higher-level information from unstructured LiDAR point data. There are many ground-filtering algorithms in literature, spanning several broad categories regarding their strategies. Most of the earlier algorithms examine only the local characteristics of the points or grids, such as the slope, and elevation discontinuities. Since considering only the local properties restricts the filtering performance due to the complexity of the terrain and the features, some recent methods utilize global properties of the terrain as well. This paper presents a new ground filtering method, Min-cut Based Filtering (MBF), which takes both local and global properties of the points into account. MBF considers ground filtering as a labeling task. First, an energy function is designed on a graph, where LiDAR points are considered as the nodes on the graph that are connected to each other as well as to two auxiliary nodes representing ground and off-ground labels. The graph is constructed such that the data costs are assigned to the edges connecting the points to the auxiliary nodes, and the smoothness costs to the edges between points. Data and smoothness terms of the energy function are formulated using point elevations and approximate ground information. The data term conducts the likelihood of the points being ground or off-ground while the smoothness term enforces spatial coherence between neighboring points. The energy function is optimized by finding the minimum-cut on the graph via the alpha-expansion algorithm. The resulting graph-cut provides the labeling of the point cloud as ground and off-ground points. Evaluation of the proposed method on the ISPRS test dataset for ground filtering demonstrates that the results are comparable with most current existing methods. An overall average filtering accuracy for the 15 ISPRS test areas is 91.3%.