Towards the automatic creation of vectorised maps for urban areas from medium resolution airborne laser scan data

Clode, Simon Paul (2006). Towards the automatic creation of vectorised maps for urban areas from medium resolution airborne laser scan data PhD Thesis, School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering, University of Queensland.

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Author Clode, Simon Paul
Thesis Title Towards the automatic creation of vectorised maps for urban areas from medium resolution airborne laser scan data
School, Centre or Institute School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering
Institution University of Queensland
Publication date 2006
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Kurt Kubik
Total pages 319
Language eng
Subjects 08 Information and Computing Sciences
Abstract/Summary This dissertation addresses the problem of automated vector extraction from Airborne Laser Scanner (ALS) data in urban areas. The recent popularity of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has stimulated research on automated object extraction in order to simplify the data acquisition and update process. By automatically generating GIS inputs and updates from a single data source, the cost of data acquisition and processing will be kept to a minimum. Compared with other remote sensing techniques, extraction of objects from ALS data is in its infancy. ALS sensor technology has evolved rapidly and now allows the acquisition of very dense point clouds in a short period of time. ALS data is unique in that it explicitly contains 3D information and is acquired from an active sensor. As such, there are several benefits that can be immediately realised by using an ALS only data approach; data acquisition will not be limited to daylight hours as with other sensors and accurate height information is contained in the data. This means that registration of different data sources is not required and as only one data source is used, acquisition costs are minimised. Apart from these facts, ALS data has some other unique properties that have not been utilised to their full potential. An ALS sensor can record both height and intensity information from multiple returns in a single swath. To date, all the available information has rarely been used. For example, the intensity of a laser return has regularly been dismissed as it was considered under-sampled and noisy. This data still contains usable information and until this information is used, the optimum object recognition results will not be achieved; thus the use of as much of this information as possible is a major focus of this thesis. As ALS is an explicit 3D data source, the early stages of development were primarily focused on topographic mapping of terrain in forested areas in order to generate Digital Terrain Models (DTMs). As sensor technology has improved, so has the achievable resolution of point clouds from ALS data, and methods to extract objects from stand-alone ALS data have emerged. Attempts have been made to create city models and maps from ALS data that included buildings, roads, trees and powerlines. Each of these spatial object types has unique attributes, which means that automatic map creation is not an easy task. For example, buildings in general are easily detected in ALS data but the building outline is not easily delineated. Another difficulty with building detection is the separation of buildings and bridges as they have many of the same properties as observed by an ALS system. Bridges can usually be found in a road network but road extraction techniques typically produce poor detection rates and often require existing data and / or user interaction in semi-automatic techniques. These simple examples highlight the complexity of automatically generating vectorised maps from ALS data or in fact any data source. In this thesis, new methods are presented for the automatic creation of vectorised maps from ALS data. A two-step processing paradigm is adopted for this purpose, namely the classification of the ALS data and the vectorisation of the classification results. A classification strategy is introduced that creates a hierarchy for object detection with respect to the ALS data itself. This approach develops an ontology between the spatial object classes and the ALS data. The hierarchical framework highlights the fact that one object might not be discernable within the data without considering another. New classification algorithms are then presented within this framework. Each algorithm attempts to exploit the attributes of the data that are consistent within the spatial object class being considered as described by the classification framework. New algorithms for the classification of roads, trees and powerlines are all introduced whilst an extension to existing building classification methods is presented. Once classification is complete, a vectorisation process specific to the task at hand can be employed to yield vectorised results. These developed vectorisation processes are new and include an algorithm that has been generalised to allow the vectorisation of thick lines in images by detecting the centreline, direction and width. The primary goal of this thesis is to present a framework of new algorithms that will allow automatic spatial object detection and vectorisation whilst providing results of an acceptable quality. The algorithms presented rely solely on ALS data and require minimal operator knowledge. Each algorithm has been designed to exploit the way in which the object exhibits itself in the data. The new algorithms are integrated into a software package called JTD (Join The Dots) that will facilitate the effective automatic processing of ALS data. The results of the new algorithms have been evaluated over four 2 x 2 km areas that have been sampled with medium resolution ALS data. The results for each area are displayed and analysed to show the applicability of the whole process in an exemplary way.
Keyword Digital mapping
Additional Notes Spine title: Towards the automatic vectorisation of ALS data.

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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 14:49:16 EST