ISPRS Annals of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume II-5/W2
16 Oct 2013
 | 16 Oct 2013

Temporal Analysis and Automatic Calibration of the Velodyne HDL-32E LiDAR System

T. O. Chan, D. D. Lichti, and D. Belton

Keywords: LiDAR, Calibration, Segmentation, Cylindrical Feature, Accuracy

Abstract. At the end of the first quarter of 2012, more than 600 Velodyne LiDAR systems had been sold worldwide for various robotic and high-accuracy survey applications. The ultra-compact Velodyne HDL-32E LiDAR has become a predominant sensor for many applications that require lower sensor size/weight and cost. For high accuracy applications, cost-effective calibration methods with minimal manual intervention are always desired by users. However, the calibrations are complicated by the Velodyne LiDAR's narrow vertical field of view and the very highly time-variant nature of its measurements. In the paper, the temporal stability of the HDL-32E is first analysed as the motivation for developing a new, automated calibration method. This is followed by a detailed description of the calibration method that is driven by a novel segmentation method for extracting vertical cylindrical features from the Velodyne point clouds. The proposed segmentation method utilizes the Velodyne point cloud's slice-like nature and first decomposes the point clouds into 2D layers. Then the layers are treated as 2D images and are processed with the Generalized Hough Transform which extracts the points distributed in circular patterns from the point cloud layers. Subsequently, the vertical cylindrical features can be readily extracted from the whole point clouds based on the previously extracted points. The points are passed to the calibration that estimates the cylinder parameters and the LiDAR's additional parameters simultaneously by constraining the segmented points to fit to the cylindrical geometric model in such a way the weighted sum of the adjustment residuals are minimized. The proposed calibration is highly automatic and this allows end users to obtain the time-variant additional parameters instantly and frequently whenever there are vertical cylindrical features presenting in scenes. The methods were verified with two different real datasets, and the results suggest that up to 78.43% accuracy improvement for the HDL-32E can be achieved using the proposed calibration method.