ISPRS Annals of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences
Publications Copernicus
Articles | Volume III-3
06 Jun 2016
 | 06 Jun 2016


P. Polewski, A. Erickson, W. Yao, N. Coops, P. Krzystek, and U. Stilla

Keywords: Coregistration, Forestry, Sample Consensus, Graph Matching, Point Clouds

Abstract. Airborne Laser Scanning (ALS) and terrestrial photogrammetry are methods applicable for mapping forested environments. While ground-based techniques provide valuable information about the forest understory, the measured point clouds are normally expressed in a local coordinate system, whose transformation into a georeferenced system requires additional effort. In contrast, ALS point clouds are usually georeferenced, yet the point density near the ground may be poor under dense overstory conditions. In this work, we propose to combine the strengths of the two data sources by co-registering the respective point clouds, thus enriching the georeferenced ALS point cloud with detailed understory information in a fully automatic manner. Due to markedly different sensor characteristics, coregistration methods which expect a high geometric similarity between keypoints are not suitable in this setting. Instead, our method focuses on the object (tree stem) level. We first calculate approximate stem positions in the terrestrial and ALS point clouds and construct, for each stem, a descriptor which quantifies the 2D and vertical distances to other stem centers (at ground height). Then, the similarities between all descriptor pairs from the two point clouds are calculated, and standard graph maximum matching techniques are employed to compute corresponding stem pairs (tiepoints). Finally, the tiepoint subset yielding the optimal rigid transformation between the terrestrial and ALS coordinate systems is determined. We test our method on simulated tree positions and a plot situated in the northern interior of the Coast Range in western Oregon, USA, using ALS data (76 x 121 m2) and a photogrammetric point cloud (33 x 35 m2) derived from terrestrial photographs taken with a handheld camera. Results on both simulated and real data show that the proposed stem descriptors are discriminative enough to derive good correspondences. Specifically, for the real plot data, 24 corresponding stems were coregistered with an average 2D position deviation of 66 cm.