Building outline extraction from als point clouds using medial axis transform descriptors

Elyta Widyaningrum*, Ravi Y. Peters, Roderik C. Lindenbergh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
103 Downloads (Pure)


Automatic building extraction and delineation from airborne LiDAR point cloud data of urban environments is still a challenging task due to the variety and complexity at which buildings appear. The Medial Axis Transform (MAT) is able to describe the geometric shape and topology of an object, but has never been applied for building roof outline extraction. It represents the shape of an object by its centerline, or skeleton structure instead of its boundary. Notably, end points of the MAT in principle coincide with corner points of building outlines. However, the MAT is sensitive to small boundary irregularities, which makes shape detection in airborne point clouds challenging. We propose a robust MAT-based method for detecting building corner points, which are then connected to form a building boundary polygon. First, we approximate the 2D MAT of a set of building edge points acquired by the alpha-shape algorithm to derive a so-called building roof skeleton. We then propose a hierarchical corner-aware segmentation to cluster skeleton points based on their properties which are the so-called separation angle, radius of the maximally inscribe circle, and defining edge point indices. From each segment, a corner point is then estimated by extrapolating the position of the zero radius inscribed circle based on the skeleton point positions within the segment. Our experiment uses point cloud datasets of Makassar, Indonesia and EYE-Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The average positional accuracy of the building outline results for Makassar and EYE-Amsterdam is 65 cm and 70 cm, respectively, which meet one-meter base map accuracy criteria. The results imply that skeletonization is a promising tool to extract relevant geometric information on e.g. building outlines even from far from perfect geographical point cloud data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107447
Number of pages15
JournalPattern Recognition
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Building outline
  • Medial axis transform
  • Point cloud
  • Segmentation
  • Skeleton

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