A team of researchers from Oregon State University have developed a promising new approach to segmenting point clouds.
New technologies such as lidar enable the rapid collection of massive datasets to model a 3D scene as a point cloud. However, while hardware technology continues to advance, processing 3D point clouds into informative models remains complex and time consuming.
A common approach to increase processing efficiently is to segment the point cloud into smaller sections. This paper proposes a novel approach for point cloud segmentation using computer vision algorithms to analyze panoramic representations of individual laser scans. These panoramas can be quickly created using an inherent neighborhood structure that is established during the scanning process, which scans at fixed angular increments in a cylindrical or spherical coordinate system.
In the proposed approach, a selected image segmentation algorithm is applied on several input layers exploiting this angular structure including laser intensity, range, normal vectors, and color information. These segments are then mapped back to the 3D point cloud so that modeling can be completed more efficiently. This approach does not depend on pre-defined mathematical models and consequently setting parameters for them.
Unlike common geometrical point cloud segmentation methods, the proposed method employs the colorimetric and intensity data as another source of information. The proposed algorithm is demonstrated on several datasets encompassing variety of scenes and objects. Results show a very high perceptual (visual) level of segmentation and thereby the feasibility of the proposed algorithm. The proposed method is also more efficient compared to Random Sample Consensus (RANSAC), which is a common approach for point cloud segmentation.