ISPRS Annals of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume I-3
20 Jul 2012
 | 20 Jul 2012


P. W. Theiler and K. Schindler

Keywords: Laser Scanning, TLS, Point Cloud, Registration, Automation, Planar Surfaces

Abstract. Terrestrial laser scanners have become a standard piece of surveying equipment, used in diverse fields like geomatics, manufacturing and medicine. However, the processing of today's large point clouds is time-consuming, cumbersome and not automated enough. A basic step of post-processing is the registration of scans from different viewpoints. At present this is still done using artificial targets or tie points, mostly by manual clicking. The aim of this registration step is a coarse alignment, which can then be improved with the existing algorithm for fine registration. The focus of this paper is to provide such a coarse registration in a fully automatic fashion, and without placing any target objects in the scene. The basic idea is to use virtual tie points generated by intersecting planar surfaces in the scene. Such planes are detected in the data with RANSAC and optimally fitted using least squares estimation. Due to the huge amount of recorded points, planes can be determined very accurately, resulting in well-defined tie points. Given two sets of potential tie points recovered in two different scans, registration is performed by searching for the assignment which preserves the geometric configuration of the largest possible subset of all tie points. Since exhaustive search over all possible assignments is intractable even for moderate numbers of points, the search is guided by matching individual pairs of tie points with the help of a novel descriptor based on the properties of a point's parent planes. Experiments show that the proposed method is able to successfully coarse register TLS point clouds without the need for artificial targets.