Automatic Object Extraction from Airborne Laser Scanning Point Clouds for Digital Base Map Production

E. Widyaningrum

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

156 Downloads (Pure)


A base map provides essential geospatial information for applications such as urban planning, intelligent transportation systems, and disaster management. Buildings and roads are the main ingredients of a base map and are represented by polygons. Unfortunately, manually delineating their boundaries from remote sensing data is time consuming and labour intensive. Airborne laser scanning (ALS) point clouds provide dense and accurate 3D positional information. Automatic extraction of buildings and roads from 3D point clouds is challenging because of their irregular shapes, occlusions in the data, and irregularity of ALS point clouds. This study focuses on two particular objectives: (i) accurate classification of a large volume of ALS 3D point clouds; and (ii) smooth and accurate building and road outline extraction. To achieve the classification objective, we perform point-wise deep learning to classify an ALS point cloud of a complex urban scene in Surabaya, Indonesia. The point cloud is colored by airborne orthophotos. Training data is obtained from an existing 2D topographic base map by a semi-automatic method proposed in this research. A dynamic-graph convolutional neural network is used to classify the point cloud into four classes: bare land, trees, buildings, and roads. We investigate effective input feature combinations for outdoor point cloud classification. A highly acceptable classification result of 91.8% overall accuracy is achieved when using the full combination of RGB color and LiDAR features. To address the objective of outline extraction, we propose building and road outline extraction methods that run directly on ALS point cloud data. For accurate and smooth building outline extraction, we propose two different methods. First, we develop the ordered Hough transform (OHT), which is an extension of the traditional Hough transform, by explicitly incorporating the sequence of points to form the outline. Second, we propose a new method based on Medial Axis Transform (MAT) skeletons which takes advantage of the skeleton points to detect building corners. The OHT method is resistant to noise but it requires prior knowledge on a building’s main directions. On the contrary, the MAT-based method does not require such orientation initialization but is more sensitive to noise on building edges. We compare the results of our building outline extraction methods to an existing RANSAC-based method, in terms of geometric accuracy, completeness of building corners, and computation time, and demonstrate that the MAT-based approach has the highest geometric accuracy, results in more complete building corners, and is slightly faster than other methods. For road network extraction, we develop a method based on skeletonization, which results in complete and continuous road centerlines and boundaries. In our study area, several roads are disrupted and disconnected due to trees. We design a tree-constrained approach to fill road gaps and integrate road width estimated from a medial axis algorithm. Comparison to reference data shows that the proposed method is able to extract almost all existing roads in the study area, and even detects roads that were not present in the reference due to human errors. We conclude that our object extraction methods enable a complete automatic procedure, extracting more accurate building and road outlines from ALS point cloud data. This contributes to a higher automation readiness level for a faster and cheaper base map production.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • Hanssen, R.F., Supervisor
  • Lindenbergh, R.C., Supervisor
Award date10 Mar 2021
Print ISBNs978-94-6366-382-3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • airborne laser scanning point clouds
  • aerial images
  • base map
  • object extraction
  • building outline
  • deep learning
  • road centerline


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