HELIOS: A MULTI-PURPOSE LIDAR SIMULATION FRAMEWORK FOR RESEARCH, PLANNING AND TRAINING OF LASER SCANNING OPERATIONS WITH AIRBORNE, GROUND-BASED MOBILE AND STATIONARY PLATFORMS
Keywords: HELIOS, Laser Scanning, LiDAR, Simulation, Survey Planning, Virtual Reality, Java, XML
Abstract. In many technical domains of modern society, there is a growing demand for fast, precise and automatic acquisition of digital 3D models of a wide variety of physical objects and environments. Laser scanning is a popular and widely used technology to cover this demand, but it is also expensive and complex to use to its full potential. However, there might exist scenarios where the operation of a real laser scanner could be replaced by a computer simulation, in order to save time and costs. This includes scenarios like teaching and training of laser scanning, development of new scanner hardware and scanning methods, or generation of artificial scan data sets to support the development of point cloud processing and analysis algorithms. To test the feasibility of this idea, we have developed a highly flexible laser scanning simulation framework named Heidelberg LiDAR Operations Simulator (HELIOS). HELIOS is implemented as a Java library and split up into a core component and multiple extension modules. Extensible Markup Language (XML) is used to define scanner, platform and scene models and to configure the behaviour of modules. Modules were developed and implemented for (1) loading of simulation assets and configuration (i.e. 3D scene models, scanner definitions, survey descriptions etc.), (2) playback of XML survey descriptions, (3) TLS survey planning (i.e. automatic computation of recommended scanning positions) and (4) interactive real-time 3D visualization of simulated surveys. As a proof of concept, we show the results of two experiments: First, a survey planning test in a scene that was specifically created to evaluate the quality of the survey planning algorithm. Second, a simulated TLS scan of a crop field in a precision farming scenario. The results show that HELIOS fulfills its design goals.