Richter, Rico; Behrens, Markus; Döllner, Jürgen
International Journal of Remote Sensing
A large number of remote-sensing techniques and image-based photogrammetric approaches allow an efficient generation of massive 3D point clouds of our physical environment. The efficient processing, analysis, exploration, and visualization of massive 3D point clouds constitute challenging tasks for applications, systems, and workflows in disciplines such as urban planning, environmental monitoring, disaster management, and homeland security. We present an approach to segment massive 3D point clouds according to object classes of virtual urban environments including terrain, building, vegetation, water, and infrastructure. The classification relies on analysing the point cloud topology, it does not require per-point attributes or representative training data. The approach is based on an iterative multi-pass processing scheme, where each pass focuses on different topological features and considers already detected object classes from previous passes. To cope with the massive amount of data, out-of-core spatial data structures and graphics processing unit (GPU)-accelerated algorithms are utilized. Classification results are discussed based on a massive 3D point cloud with almost 5 billion points of a city. The results indicate that object-class-enriched 3D point clouds can substantially improve analysis algorithms and applications as well as enhance visualization techniques.