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Introduction to Airborne LiDAR and

Physical Principles of LiDAR Technology

(Lectures 1 and 5)

E. Baltsavias

Institute of Geodesy and Photogrammetry


ETH Zurich, CH-8093 Zurich, Switzerland
manos@geod.baug.ethz.ch
www.photogrammetry.ethz.ch

International School on LiDAR Technology, IIT Kanpur, India, 31 March - 4 April 2008
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Acknowledgements

For this presentation material has been used, without or with modifications, from various
colleagues organisations and companies
colleagues, companies, who I want to thank:
- C. Brenner, Leibniz University of Hannover
- D. Fritsch, J. Kilian, A. Wehr (Univ. of Stuttgart)
- G. Vosselman (ITC)
- U. Lohr ((at that time with firm Toposys)
p y )
- A. Streilein (Swisstopo = Swiss Federal Office of Topography)
- N. Pfeifer (Technical University of Vienna)
- Firms Leica, Riegl, Optech, IGI, Toposys, Fugro, Swissphoto

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Contents

- History
- Basic components of ALS and functioning
- Range measurement principles
- Interaction of laser beam with targets and full waveform digitising
- Basic error sources
- Processing overview, point classification (filtering) and strip adjustment
- Quality control of data
- Overview of commercial systems
- Overview of applications and examples
- Bathymetric lidar
- A short comparison of airborne laser scanning to other remote sensing technologies

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History
First optical laser developed in 1960 (Maiman, USA)
First airborne laser ranging tried out in 1960s
Started to be developed from early and middle 1970s, espec. in N. America, particularly
for hydrographic and bathymetric applications
First in late 1980s, the use of GPS made accurate range measurements from airborne laser
profilers possible (Univ. of Stuttgart, Prof. Ackerman)
Beginning of 90s profilers replaced by scanners (ALS), and GPS combined with INS
1996 ISPRS Congress in Viennna: one ALS manufacturer, some reports and tests with ALS
1996-2000: work of several ISPRS Working Groups (WG) and one OEEPE WG on ALS.
Publication of a special issue of ISPRS Journal of Photo & RS gives a good overview.
Since 2000: ALS increasinglyg y used in p
practice and in various applications;
pp ; increasing
g
scientific investigations and tests and better methods; continuously improving ALS systems,
incl. waveform digitizing (espec. from 2004) and simultaneous double ALS (from 2006);
more and better software; more service providers and users
Often the term LiDAR is used: Light Detection And Ranging
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Basic components and functioning
- Active sensor: a very narrow, high energy ray is sent from a source (laser) to the scene,
reflected
fl t d bbackk and
d recorded.
d d AActive
ti means it worksk day
d and d night
i ht (even
( b
better
tt att night
i ht due
d
to no sun interference). Active also means it can measure in textureless areas including
shadows
- Here we treat only airborne Lidar. What is recorded is the Time of Flight (TOF) or rarely
the phase (called also continuous wave (CW) lasers), and almost always the intensity,
although intensity is rarely used. All commercial ALS systems use TOF. There is one
experimental CW ALS, called SCALARS (Univ. of Stuttgart).
- Basically: measurement of distance via polar technique, e.g. the direction of the ray and
the distance from the ray source to the scene are measured
- Most ALS work in near infrared (NIR), so are influenced by clouds, snow, rain etc. (no
weather independence, as radar)

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Basic components
- Laser transmitter and detector/receiver = range measuring unit
- Deflection mechanism of the laser ray, e.g. mirror, polygon
- GPS/INS (offset and misalignment angles between GPS/INS and laser unit must be known
-> for INS called boresight calibration). GPS is in differential modus with GPS reference
stations closeby. Dual frequency GPS is mostly used.
- Computer,
Computer onboard software (e (e.g.
g for navigation and flight management) and storage
devices (data size is huge), including precise timing device that synchronises all sensors
- Optionally: other film-based (e.g. RC30) or more often optoelectronic cameras (frame or
line) -> especially for generation of orthoimages, also video or standard CCDs for
attributation or annotation (see powerline example in applications).
p , helicopters
- Platforms: airplanes, p ((espec.
p for mapping
pp g of corridors or small areas),
), also
Unpiloted Airborne Vehicles (UAVs), including small ones (developments underway from
firm Riegl)

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Basic components of an ALS system

DGPS

Laser
transmitter
Deflection
INS Detector/ unit
Control &
Receiver
g
data recording

Ground

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Basic components of an ALS system

No fix rules exist for distance of


ground reference GPS stations
from airplane. Often 10-50 km,
depending on topography (GPS
satellite visibility) and possible
GPS signal disturbances.

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Platforms

- Aerial
Mostly airplanes, then helicopters. Also Unpiloted Airborne Vehicles (with
small weight ALS, e.g. planned from Riegl), even balloons.

- Terrestrial

- Satellites

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Some definitions

- Pulse repetition frequency (PRF) or pulse rate: number of pulses sent per second
- Echoes (some call them also pulses): number of received pulse reflections recorded
for one sent pulse
- Minimum vertical object separation: minimum distance between 2 separable echoes
- Scan rate: number of scan patterns (e.g. scan lines) per second
- Field of View (FOV) or scan angle: across-flight angle that laser beam can cover
- Beam divergence: the angle showing the deviation of the laser beam from parallelity

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Other important parameters
- Minimum and maximum flying height: maximum depends mainly on transmitted power, minimum on
national/local regulations and eyesafe distance
- Maximum swath width: depends on flying height and FOV
- Laser footprint (ground area illuminated by laser beam): depends on beam divergence and flying
height. In ideal case a circle, in reality an ellipse or even more irregular pattern
- Wavelength: important for measuring certain objects (object should reflect well at laser wavelength)
- Across and along track point density (these 2 define also the average point density): they depend on
manyy parameters,
p like scan ppattern, PRF, scan rate, flying
y g height,
g aircraft velocity,
y FOV etc. ->
necessity for good flight planning and selection of acquisition parameters
- Number of echoes for which intensity is recorded
- GPS/INS measurement frequency and accuracy (accuracy espec. for INS)
- Use of additional imaging sensors (digital cameras, video, etc.)
- Weight, dimensions, power consumption, environmental operational conditions (T, H etc.)
- Range resolution and accuracy
- Software! (flight planning, post-processing etc.)

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Basic components The laser ray

Spectral properties
- Mostly user laser: Nd:YAG = neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet
Emits at 1064 nm wavelength
- Other systems: e.g. 810 nm (ScaLARS), 900 nm (FLI-MAP), 1540 nm (TopoSys, Riegl)
- Laser systems emit in one wavelength only. Exception bathymetric lasers emit at
1064 and 532 nm, to measure both water surface and water bottom
- Emitted light has very narrow spectral width, e.g. for Nd:YAG 0.1-0.5 nm
Laser beam properties
- High power, so that enough energy can return back to the detector (high flying height)
- Very narrow beam: laser can illuminate and measure small targets, more energy per area
- For TOF, a very narrow high energy pulse is emitted, with a width of under 10 ns
(note 1 ns means 0.3 m distance). The narrower the pulse, the better the range accuracy

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Scanning mechanisms & ground patterns
Oscillating Rotating Nutating mirror Fiber switch
mirror polygon (Palmer scan) (Toposys Falcon)

Laser

(same for
receiving
optics)

Z-shaped, Parallel Elliptical Parallel


sinusoidal lines lines

Flight direction
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Scanning mechanisms & ground patterns

- Most systems use oscillating mirrors with equal angle increments


- A
Accuracy att the
th edge
d off ththe swath
th with
ith oscillating
ill ti mirrors
i often
ft worse due
d tot
deflection inaccuracies, espec. with high inertia mirrors
- Point density is inhomogeneous with all scan patterns, for some patterns more for
other less
- There are gaps in ground coverage and depending on laser footprint also
overlaps This is one of the reasons why laser images (intensity) is much inferior
overlaps.
to camera images
- With Palmer scan the point density at swath edge is higher. This is positive for
connecting neighbouring overlapping swaths (see strip adjustment below)

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Polygon mirror example

Parameters in green
Pre-decided 25 cm @
0.5 mrad
beam
divergence
/2=20
h=500 m
0.08 70 cm
364 m

500 pulses / line


1

cos 2 i
0 08 79 cm
0.08
Swath width
Pulse repetition
2h tan = 0.7h = 364m
2 50 lines / s 83 cm frequency 25 kHz
v = 150 km/h
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Beam divergence

Laser beam widens with distance


Beam divergence

D, aperture diameter Theoretical limit by diffraction 2.44
D
Example:
= 1064 nm, D = 10 cm 0.026 mrad
Typical values for ALS:
h = 0.15
0 15 1 mrad
d
Ground laser beam diameter (assuming a circle)
2
DI = D + 2h tan( 2)
2h tan( 2)
h
DI, diameter of
illuminated area Example:
= 1 mrad
Ground 1 m diameter @ h = 1 km flying height

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Power balance

Example
PT = 2000 W
Atmospheric transmission
Ar M = 0.8
1 - Power transmitted: Receiver area Ar = 80 cm2 (for Dr
PT = 10 cm)

2 - Power received on object:


j Range = 1 km
R M PT Reflectivity = 0.5

3 - Power reflected, assuming Pr = 4 10-10 PT = 800 nW


Lambertian reflection: Huge difference between
transmitted and received power.
PT M / Main influence from R.
4 - Power received:

Ground

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Reflectivity
Reflectivity vs. material Range vs. reflectivity
MATERIAL REFLECTIVITY
@ l = 900 nm
Dimension lumber (pine, clean, 94%
dry)
Snow 80-90%
White masonry 85%
Limestone, clay up to 75%
Deciduous trees typ.
yp 60%
Coniferous trees typ. 30%
Carbonate sand (dry) 57%
Carbonate sand (wet) 41%
Beach sands, bare areas in typically 50%
desert
Rough wood pallet (clean) 25% Correction factor for maximum laser range,
Concrete, smooth 24% depending on target reflectivity (example for lasers of
firm Riegl, 900 nm wavelength, diffuse targets,
Asphalt with pebbles 17%
maximum range in the specifications given for 80%
Lava 8% reflectivity). Range generally proportional to square
Black rubber tire wall 2% root of reflectivity.
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Example of intensity image

Quality much worse than camera images. Object with low reflectivity at laser wavelength
appear dark.
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Pulse laser measurement principle
(pulse in reality not trapezoidal as shown here)
Travelling time:
2R
ttravel =
c
h=R
with c speed of light
Ground Example:
6.7 s
000 m ttravel = 6
h = R = 1000

Range resolution: R = c ttravel


AT Maximum pulse repetition frequency (theoretical,
next pulse
assuming no transmit / receive overlap):
c
AR t f max = 1 / ttravel =
ttravel 2R
Example:
t h = R = 1000 m fmax = 150 kHz
tp

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Pulse laser measurement principle
tp
Signal Typical characteristics of sent pulse:
amplitude
Pulse width
t tp = 10 ns ( 3 m @ speed of light)
Pulse rise time
trise
trise = 1 ns ( 30 cm @ speed of light)
In TOF, a position of the incoming pulse rising edge
is used to determine TOF and range. Intensity is
measured by the maximum or better the area of the
incoming pulse.
Peak power
Ppeak = 2,000 W
3m Energy per pulse
E = Ppeak tp = 20 J
Average power (@ pulse repetition rate F = 10 kHz)
Pav = E F = 0.2 W

Ground
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For most ALS systems, pulse shape deteriorates with higher PRF

Pulse becomes wider and its magnitude decreases with increasing PRF. Clockwise from
top left: 33, 50, 70, 100 KHz
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CW laser measurement principle

Characteristics (example ScaLARS):


Modulation
Two modulation frequencies
signal
t fhigh = 10 MHz, flow = 1 MHz
short = 30 m, long = 300 m
High frequency used for accurate phase measurement
Signal
amplitude Low frequency used for wavelength count (phase
t disambiguities)

Left: measurement with


Modulation f high
signal
AT, AR, transmitted and
received amplitude
Si
Signal l T period
T: i d
amplitude
tL : travelling time
(corresponds to phase)

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CW laser operation

Maximum unambiguous range determined by long :


long
Rmax =
2

Example:
long = 300 m Rmax = 150 m
Ground

Range resolution:
AT R = short / 4

t Range gating:
Range differences known to be < long / 2
AR
Range tracking:
If no sudden surface steps > long / 2 are present
t
CW lasers will not treated further here
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Interaction with targets

First echoe from tree canopy

2nd, 3rd etc. echoes from tree branches

L t echoe
Last h ffrom ground
d

Multiple echoes generally with vegetation (semi-transparent objects), also at abrupt


surface discontinuties (e.g. building edges) and overhanging objects (e.g. power lines)
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Interaction with targets

AT

AR
first pulse last pulse

t
5m

tp

Usually returned pulse magnitude lower and width wider (not as shown
in figure above)
Assuming returned pulse width of 10 ns 3 m
Min distance of separable objects h = 1.5 m
(in theory, in reality min. vertical separation is larger)

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Interaction with targets
AT

t
AR,1
t1

Detection accuracy 10-15% t


of rise time 3 - 4.5 cm, for
t rise = 1 ns

For flat surfaces with good homogeneous reflectivity in


p , received pulse
the laser footprint, p very
y similar to sent one
-> small rise time (good range accuracy), no range
averaging of various targets

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Interaction with targets

AT

AR,2

t2

t
t rise
7 ns
Multiple irregular surfaces close to each other reflect an
incoming pulse. The reflected pulses are combined to a
wider pulse with lower magnitude and longer rise time
-> lower range accuracy, range averaging

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Interaction with targets

(same reflectivity as left


but for sloped terrain)
Measured range depends on surface slope and roughness, e.g. for the 2 left figures return
pulse on the right is wider than on the left and measured range is an average of the range of
the laser footprint
Minimum detectable object size depends on reflectivity (e.g. thin power cables are detectable).
The returned pulse on the 2 right figures may be detectable if the yellow area has high
reflectivity, even if it covers a small area within the laser footprint
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Interaction with targets

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Full waveform analysis

ower line

ee crown

ound
ush

gro
po

tre

bu
AR

t
First pulse Last pulse
t0 Data
t1 recorder

AR

1 Giga-samples/s

t
Data
recorder
Above: returned full continuous waveform
Below: discrete sampling of continuous waveform
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Example of full waveform digitising Tree profile

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Full waveform analysis

Very high number of echoes per sent pulse are registered


Multiple target detection down to 0.5 m minimum vertical separation
Can help determine surface roughness, surface slope
Useful for characterising vegetation structure (tree parameters and classification)
Separation of range at surface discontinuities (e.g. building edges)
More points and eventually more accurate points
Better classification of points in DTM / DSM, better DTM modelling
User-defined post-processing methods, no need for real time
Examples of ALS systems with full waveform: Riegl LMS-Q560, IGI Litemapper 5600, Optech ALTM
3100, TopEye Mark II, Toposys Falcon III
Processing of waveform data currently mostly at experimental stage (support by some software
packages is coming, e.g. by firms Terrasolid, Riegl etc.)

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Interaction with targets

Specular reflection
water, wet surfaces
no return signal
g

Canopy penetration deteriorates with increasing scan angles and increasing leaves (for deciduous
trees).
Similarly, occlussions increase with increasing scan angle (important for 3D building and city modeling).
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Error sources

Laser measurement (range, deflection angle, electronics)


DGPS (receiver, satellite constellation, ground reference constellation)
INS (frequency, drift)
Offset / alignment between GPS, INS, laser scanner
Dynamic bend of IMU / scanner mounting plate
Time synchronization and interpolation (GPS: 1-10/s, INS 200/s,
turbulent flight)
Transformation to local coordinate system
Etc
Etc.

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Error budget (geometry)





X0, Y0, Z0



h
Y

Z
Y
X

X
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due
Error budget (geometry)
to
error Total
R X0 Y0 Z0 Total @h=1000
in

0 0 22.4 53.0
X 15 0 20.9 7.5 0 0 8 0 0 23.6 56.2
30 16.1 27.6 66.6

0 0 26.4 63.5
Y 15 20.9 0 0 14 1.3 0 8 0 26.4 63.5
30 2.5 26.5 63.6

0 0 0 5 9.4 9.4
Z 15 5.6 0 0 4 5 0 0 8 11.7 19.1
30 12.1 8 4 17.0 37.3

Assumptions: h = 400 m (except last column h = 1000 m), = = =0,


= = 0.03, = 0.04, = 0.02, cm 0 0-5 5-10 10-15 15+
R = 5 cm, X0 = Y0 = Z0 = 8 cm
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Error budget: conclusions
Total
R X0 Y0 Z0 Total @h=1000

0 0 22.4 53.0
X 15 0 20.9 7.5 0 0 8 0 0 23.6 56.2
30 16.1 27.6 66.6

0 0 26.4 63.5
Y 15 20.9 0 0 14 1.3 0 8 0 26.4 63.5
30 2.5 26.5 63.6

0 0 0 5 9.4 9.4
Z 15 5.6 0 0 4 5 0 0 8 11.7 19.1
30 12.1 8 4 17.0 37.3

Y slightly larger than X for small (due to error)


changes for larger (due to error)
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Error budget: conclusions
Total
R X0 Y0 Z0 Total @h=1000

0 0 22.4 53.0
X 15 0 20.9 7.5 0 0 8 0 0 23.6 56.2
30 16.1 27.6 66.6

0 0 26.4 63.5
Y 15 20.9 0 0 14 1.3 0 8 0 26.4 63.5
30 2.5 26.5 63.6

0 0 0 5 9.4 9.4
Z 15 5.6 0 0 4 5 0 0 8 11.7 19.1
30 12.1 8 4 17.0 37.3

R has only marginal influence on Z


and almost no influence on X, Y.
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Error budget: conclusions
Total
R X0 Y0 Z0 Total @h=1000

0 0 22.4 53.0
X 15 0 20.9 7.5 0 0 8 0 0 23.6 56.2
30 16.1 27.6 66.6

0 0 26.4 63.5
Y 15 20.9 0 0 14 1.3 0 8 0 26.4 63.5
30 2.5 26.5 63.6

0 0 0 5 9.4 9.4
Z 15 5.6 0 0 4 5 0 0 8 11.7 19.1
30 12.1 8 4 17.0 37.3

Z smaller than X, Y and less dependent on h


Reason: R, Z0 dominate and are nearly independent of h
Z mainly depends on Z0 (GPS!) (and R) for small
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Error budget: conclusions
Total
R X0 Y0 Z0 Total @h=1000

0 0 22.4 53.0
X 15 0 20.9 7.5 0 0 8 0 0 23.6 56.2
30 16.1 27.6 Z
66.6

0 0 26.4 63.5
Y 15 20.9 0 0 14 1.3 0 8 0 26.4
X, Y 63.5
30 2.5 26.5 63.6

0 0 0 5 9.4 9.4
Z 15 5.6 0 0 4 5 0 0 8 11.7 19.1
30 12.1 8 4 17.0 37.3

Z given is too optimistic


especially for sloped terrain, X, Y dominate and cause also height errors
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1PiA: one laser
2PiA: two simultaneous
lasers

PiA = Pulse in the Air

- Z- accuracy better than XY (espec. as height increases). Both deteriorate with height, Z only a little.
Accuracy worse at FOV edge than at nadir. Accuracy deteriorates with higher PRF.
- 2PiA more accurate than 1PiA for same height and PRF. Or provides same accuracy for higher height.
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Processing flow (coarse, first stages)

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Processing flow (example Leica and Terrasolid software)

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Filtering Introduction

Digital terrain model (DTM): ground


Digital surface model (DSM): top visible surface
Filtering: classification of points into terrain and above-terrain (sometimes with
separation to buildings and trees)
Basis for DSM and DTM generation
generation, detection of above
above-terrain
terrain objects (e.g.
(e g
buildings)

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Filtering

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Filtering

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Filtering

Points that do not


belong to DSM or
DTM, which have to
be eliminated

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Filtering

DSM (left), DTM (right)

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Filtering results

Laser point density 5.6 points/m2 (top), reduced to 1 point/16m2 (bottom). Filtering errors increase with lower
point density. Errors also increase with decreasing tree canopy penetration -> for DTM fly with leaves off.

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Filtering results

Large building
(railway station)

Part of Stuttgart (above DSM, below DTM). Errors depend on size of non-terrain objects, terrain
slope and scene complexity.
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Filtering results

Classification sometimes to: ground objects (red), vegetation (yellow), other above ground objects
(cyan)
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ISPRS laser data filtering test

Comparison
p of filter algorithms,
g , 2002-2004
8 sites, 8 participants
Qualitative and quantitative evaluation

All filters perform well on smooth terrain with vegetation and buildings. All filters
have problems with rough terrain and complex city landscapes.
In general
general, filters that compare points to locally estimated surfaces performed bestbest.
The problems caused by the scene complexities were larger than those caused by
the reduced point density.
Research on segmentation, quality assessment and usage of additional
knowledge sources is recommended.
Full report on http://www.itc.nl/isprswgIII-3/filtertest/index.html

Commercial software (see below) can have, depending on scene complexity, 90-
95% success rate. The rest is corrected partly automatically, partly manually using
visualisation techniques, overlay with images and maps etc.

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Strip adjustment

Create a seamless data set by correcting for


systematic errors between strips

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Strip adjustment

Analogy to independent model adjustment with self self-calibration


calibration parameters
Modelling of shifts, drifts and other systematic errors
Measurement of tie points
Measurement of control points
Adjust strips such that
corresponding tie points are transformed to same terrain point
misclosures at control points are minimal

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Strip adjustment

Independent strips with tie points Strips transformed to reference


system

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Quality control of DSM and DTM
(example Swisstopo, Swiss Federal Office of Topography)

Aim Control of nationwide laser DSM/DTM (up to 2000m height)

Requirements Data accuracy: 50cm


Accuracy control over whole area

Realisation Combination of controls from


(a) Accurate wide-area data
(b) Very accurate pointwise data

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Verification DTM / DSM

Wide area controls


Wide-area
Formal aspects
Data formats
Completeness

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Verification DTM / DSM

Wide area controls


Wide-area
Formal aspects
Density of laser points

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Verification DTM / DSM

Wide area controls


Wide-area
Formal aspects
Height accuracy
(visualise height gradients)

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Verification DTM / DSM

Wide area controls


Wide-area
Formal aspects
Height accuracy
-> compare to older national
25m grid DTM (DHM25)

Areas with yellow may be laser errors

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Verification DTM / DSM

Pointwise controls
Height accuracy
Compare to national
triangulation points

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Verification DTM / DSM

Pointwise controls
Height accuracy
Compare to GPS measurements

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Verification DTM / DSM
Pointwise controls
Plausibility of model
Single point control (samples) using also contour abrupt changes

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Verification DTM / DSM

Pointwise controls
Plausibility of model
Field control (samples)

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Verification DTM / DSM

Area-wide controls
Formal aspects
Point density
Height accuracy
Gradients Generally area-wide for all datasets
Comparison to older national DTM
Point-wise
Point wise controls
Height accuracy
Comparison to national triangulation points
Comparison to GPS measurements
Plausibility of model
Single point control Targeted control in identified problem areas
Field control

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Verification DTM / DSM

Other used comparison data for interpretation

Rasterised topographic map 1:25,000 National color orthoimages, 0.5m pixel size

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Verification DTM / DSM

?
Only the combination
of various data
leads to safe conclusions

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Verification DTM / DSM

Visualisation in ArcView (various layers; arbitrary combination of data)

e.g. rasterised topomap and point density

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Verification DTM / DSM

Visualisation in ArcView (various layers; arbitrary combination of data)

e.g. national orthoimages and difference laser DTM - DHM25

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Quality: Laser DTM - DHM25

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Quality check
Height fit between
neighbouring strips

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Quality check Height fit between neighbouring strips, using hill-
shading -> very good for error visualisation)

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Quality check Data gaps

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ALS manufacturers

Main manufacturers
- Optech, Canada
- Leica Geosystems, Switzerland
- Riegl, Austria
- Toposys, Germany
- IGI mbH, Germany

Smaller ones
- Fugro-Inpark, Netherlands
- Laseroptronix, Sweden
- TopEye
T E AB,AB Sweden
S d

Few of them provide also services, e.g. Toposys

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ALS system developments

Quite rapid, every 1-2 years new systems


Most important parameters that improve
- higher PRF
- higher flying height
- more echoes per pulse to full waveform digitising
- more compact
- better processing software
- programmability of acquisition parameters: FOV, beam divergence, scan rate, PRF
- better and variable GPS/INS systems
New specialised ALS systems appear, like the Leica ALS corridor mapper (lower technical
specifications
spec cat o s (e
(e.g.
g flying
y g height),
e g t), at reduced
educed costs)
For latest products and technical specifications, consult WEB pages of manufacturers

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Examples of ALS systems

System Optech ALTM Gemini Leica ALS50-II Riegl LMS-Q560 Toposys Falcon-III
Laser 1064 nm 1064 nm 1550 nm 1540 nm
Altitude 80 4000 m max 6000 m 30-1800 m 30-2500 m
Range up to 4 up to 4 full waveform 9 or full waveform
measurements
Scan max. 100 Hz max. 90 Hz up to 160 Hz Up to 415 Hz
frequency
Scan angle max. 25 max. 37.5 up to 22.5 13.5 (fixed)
Pulse rate 33-167 kHz max. 150 kHz up to 200 kHz Up to 125 kHz
Beam 0.15/0.25, 0.8 mrad 0.15/0.22 mrad 0.5 mrad 0.7 mrad
divergence
Beam pattern oscillating, sawtooth oscillating, sawtooth rotating polygon, Fiber optic, parallel
parallel

Others: FLI-MAP (Fugro-Inpark), LiteMapper (IGI mbH), GeoMapper 3D


(Laseroptronix), TopEye MK II (TopEye AB)
Major Lidar parameters are variable and programmable to fulfil different application
requirements
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Optech ALTM 3100

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Riegl LMS-Q560 / LMS-Q280i

(S
(Scanner & data
d t recorder
d only)
l )

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IGI LiteMapper

(uses scanners from Riegl)


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TopoSys

Falcon II, III (fiber)

Harrier 24 and 56 (use laser scanners from Riegl)

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FLI-MAP

FLI-MAP 400

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Leica ALS 50 (bottom right) and ADS40 (left) digital camera

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Leica Multiple Pulses in Air (MPiA) technology
Introduced
I t d d in
i OOctober
t b 2006
Uses two ALS identical systems, using one GPS/INS unit
Allows rangefinding system to operate at double the pulse rate of current Leica
systems at any given altitude
Easy upgrade of existing Leica ALS systems (costs about 100,000 Euro)
Significant benefits
Double the data density at current swath
Double the swath at current density
Data acquisition cost savings approaching 50%
Patents applied for in US and internationally

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MPiA: Single-pulse technology limits pulse rate

1 3 5

2 4

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MPiA allows doubling of pulse rate

1 2 3 4 5

2 3 4 5

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Example of Leica ALS50-ii, 2PiA (simultaneously 2 ALS systems)
Smooth surfaces with very high point density and wide swath

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Software for processing (I)

1. Offered by ALS manufacturers, mostly for their own systems, sometimes integrating
partly other commercial packages, e.g. Realm of Optech, TopIT of Toposys, Riegl, IGI
(see 3. below)

2. Offered by non-ALS manufacturers, but specialised for ALS or point cloud processing

e.g. Terrascan, Terramatch and Terramodeler (Terrasolid, Finland), Scop++ Lidar,


DTMmaster and Scop++ p ((Inpho,
p Germany),
y) LIDAR Analyst
y Extension for ArcGIS and
Erdas Imagine (Visual Learning Systems, USA), ArcGIS Lidar Extension LP360
(QCoherent Software, USA), TLID (Tiltan Systems Engineering, Israel), SocetSet (for
generating DTMs from point clouds) (BAE Systems, UK), LIDAR XLR8R (Airborne1
Corporation, USA), QT Modeler (Applied Imagery, USA), LASedit (Cloud Peak Software,
LLC., USA), LiDAR Geocode, GeocodeWF (GeoLas Consulting, Germany), ALTEXIS
(GeoKosmos, Russia), MARS (Merrik & Company, USA), LiDAR Explorer for ArcGIS
(ProLogic Inc., USA) . Quite some differences in functionality, quality of methods, and
ease-of-use. No thorough comparison between the packages has been made.

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Software for processing (II)

3. Existing software packages for partial processing, e.g. GrafNav by Waypoint Consulting
f DGPS postprocessing,
for t i POSP
POSPac b by AApplanix
l i ffor estimation
ti ti off aircraft
i ft
trajectory data

4. Proprietary software (blackboxes for users) for limited functions developed mainly by
service providers

5. Experimental software developed at academia and research

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Main applications

Mapping of corridors, e.g., roads, railway tracks, pipelines, waterway landscapes


Mapping g of electrical transmission lines and towers including
g tree clearance
DSM and DTM generation, especially in forested areas, study of drainage patterns, etc.
Measurement of coastal areas, including dunes and tidal flats, determination of coastal change and
erosion
High accuracy and very dense measurement applications, e.g., flood mapping, DTM generation
and volume calculation in open pit mines, waste deposits, 3D mapping of important infrastructures
(e.g. airports, harbours, big industrial sites)
DTM and DSM S generation in urban areas, automated building extraction, generation off 3-D
3 city
models
Rapid mapping and damage assessment after natural disasters, e.g., after hurricanes,
earthquakes, landslides
Measurement of snow- and ice-covered areas, including glacier monitoring
Measurement of wetlands
Derivation of vegetation parameters
parameters, e.g.,
e g tree height,
height crown diameter,
diameter tree density,
density biomass
estimation, determination of forest borders
Orthoimage and true orthoimage generation (combined with camera data)
Hydrographic surveys in depths up to 50-70 m

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Other current or possible applications

landscape design
generation
ti off 3-D
3 D models
d l ffor movie,
i video
id andd computer-game
t productions,
d ti
and computer animation
3-D models for architectural design and simulation in architectural or civil
engineering projects
visualisation and fly- or walkthroughs,
plant growth monitoring in precision farming,
snow accumulation for avalanche risk estimation,

etc.

Many applications, examples and projects shown at WEB pages of ALS


manufacturers, service providers, and firm Geolas (www.geolas.com)

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Application examples

Part of city of Lisbon,


Portugal

1 m raster DSM,
area about 1 km

Edinfor

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Application examples 3D city models, ALS depending on point density has poor quality
at building edges

Section of City of Pavia, Italy

CGR,Parma

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Application examples

Baubehrde Hamburg

1 m raster DSM

Section of Hamburg, Germany


Airbus integration facility, Finkenwerder
Good modeling of small structures
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Application examples

Section of City of Silkeborg, Denmark


DSM and orthoimage
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Application examples

100 m 10 m

BASF waste deposit, Germany

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Application examples
true color image (RGB)
color infrared image
vegetated areas (green)

Identifying sealed and vegetated areas


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Application examples
2m 2,5 m 3m

DEM, pseudo-coloured
DEM, hill-shaded
mapping of draining ditches

Wetlands close to Ouddorp (Netherlands) Area approx. 700 m x 700 m

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Coast line monitoring
Copyright: NL, Forschungsstelle Kste

Map, Scale: 1:5000 Digital Surface Model


Section of the Langeoog DSM
Raster DSM, grid: 1m, relief presentation; corresponding section of a map
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Coast line monitoring

Copyright: NL, Forschungsstelle Kste

beach
dunes
Langeoog

Raster-DEM and derived iso-lines;


beach and mud bottom: 0,25 m
contours,
dune area: 1m iso-lines

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Coast line monitoring

Amt f.Lndl. Rume,Husum

Island Sylt, North Sea,Germany


Monitoring the cliffs erosion
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Water resources management
profile 1

profile 2
P2
P1

Gewsserdir. Riedlingen
g

DSM and profiles


area about 700 m by 700 m

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Integrated Helicopter Corridor Mapping (IHCM)
trans section cross section

birds eye view,


0,5 m raster DSM

Section of a high tension line

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IHCM, ArcView interface

Laser scanner and


airborne video data

- Integrated overlay of GIS


GIS-data
data
- Hotlinked video sequence

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IHCM, ArcView interface

3D view of a powerline corridor

- vectorized lines
- 0.5 m DSM
- pylons as symbols

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Hydrologic simulations estimation of potential flood areas

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Bathymetric Lidar
Principle (double wavelength: near InfraRed and green)

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Bathymetric Lidar
Principle (double wavelength: near InfraRed and green)

Detection of depths up to
ca. 40-50 m

Depends on water turbidity


(detection of depths up to
2-3 times Secchi depth)

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Water clarity and Secchi depth

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Bathymetric Lidar
Optech, bathymetric laser, effect of boats (see two peaks on the left;
on the right data after postprocessing)

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Laser Applications - Sea Bottom Objects
Bathymetric values ; on the right a zoom ; object shown on next slide

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Laser Applications - Sea Bottom Objects
Left: sunken ship (see also previous slide), firm Optech (Canada)
Right: laser system Hawkeye (Sweden), ship 3m below sea level

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Laser Applications - Coastal and Sea Mapping
Optech, Perdido (CA)
Simultaneous surveying of water, coast and land

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Bathymetric Lidar
Shoals system (USA), Yucatan, 90 million points, coral reefs,
navigation charts

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Bathymetric Lidar
Shoals, Yucatan, 3D visualisation

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Bathymetric Lidar
Shoals, Solander, NZ, sanctuary, safe navigation

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A short comparison of airborne laser scanning to other remote sensing
technologies

Introduction

What does ALS measure?

1. 3D point clouds (DTMs, DSMs)

2. Vertical structure of objects, espec. with waveform digitising (which is not still fully mature)

3. Bathymetry, up to a depth of 50-70 m, more realistically 2-3 times the Secchi depth

4 Intensity
4.
Intensity images are much inferior to optical images and monochromatic with a very narrow
spectral width, thus not very useful. Thus, we exclude this product from comparison.

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What are the possible alternative technologies?

- Airborne optical sensors, panchromatic or multispectral, which can provide geometric but also
thematic information. Hyperspectral sensors are excluded -> not used for geometric information
extraction.

- Airborne radar. However, there are very few commercial systems (Intermap (Canada), Orbisat
(B il) lless E
(Brazil), EarthData
thD t (USA
(USA, now owned dbby F
Fugro, NL))
NL)).

- Maybe also spaceborne optical high spatial resolution sensors, and less high resolution
interferometric radar (either single-pass or with very short time difference between data acquisitions)

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What are the criteria for comparison?
1. Quality (density, completeness and accuracy) of information provided
2. Costs
3. Delivery time
4. Availability of technology and of service providers

Criteria that influence the above are: maturity/stability of technology, maturity and
availability of software. Area to be covered also influences costs and delivery time and
is an important factor.

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Comparison Lets start from the easy things first
Bathymetry
- Multispectral sensors, even from satellites, have been used to map the sea bottom, but
only close to the coastline, up to a few meters depth, and this under special conditions
(very clear water).
- Sonar is often used for larger areas and in deeper seas. It is certainly much slower than
ALS. I can not make a statement about resolution and accuracy, but most probably it is
worse.
worse
- Radar can not be used for this purpose.

Winner -> ALS


But note: the available systems
y are very
y few,, and data processing
p g software p
proprietory.
p y

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Comparison Lets continue with the less easy things
Vertical structure of objects
This refers almost exclusivelyy to vegetation,
g , a veryy hot topic
p today
y (g
(global warming,
g, CO2))
- Passive optical sensors can not penetrate canopy. They can provide information on the
canopy geometry and its spectral characteristics. Using also field data, a classification of
trees and derivation of other parameters, like tree crown diameter, basal area, tree height
and growth, even biomass can be estimated, some of them indirectly. These sensors can
not provide directly an estimation of 3D tree structure, and they can not measure the terrain
below vegetation,
vegetation which is useful ee.g.
g for estimating canopy models
models. In spite of this deficit
deficit,
these sensors are a serious choice, especially for providing multispectral information.
- Radar can be useful in this application, in L- and even more in P-band. Regarding airborne
radar only Orbisat and EarthData have radar in L-band, but used rarely, if at all, for such
applications. New and planned spaceborne systems, with L-Band have a potential, together
with optical sensors or X- / C-band and polarimetric SAR to provide very useful information
on vegetation
t ti over large
l areas, although
lth h nott single
i l ttree 3D structure.
t t

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Comparison Lets continue with the less easy things
Vertical structure of objects
Conclusion:
- ALS currently is better for estimating of 3D structure of vegetation, but over rather small
areas and principally only with waveform digitising.
- Radar may become a competition, especially with spaceborne sensors over large areas
- 3D structure is not the only and not the main vegetation parameter, thus also passive
optical sensors are a serious competitor
competitor, the most serious compared to ALS
ALS.
- There is no clear conclusion, there is a complementarity between the sensors which
should be exploited.

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Comparison The difficult things last
3D point clouds (DTMs and DSMs)
- For measuring g DTMs over forest areas,, ALS is currentlyy the better choice. This is often the
only reason why ALS is prefered over other technologies in many applications, including
national or regional DTM/DSM generation.
- For measuring DSMs, things become quite complicated:
e.g. to generate a DSM over 200,000 km2 in 12 months, with a 5m grid spacing and 1m
height accuracy,
accuracy and with low budget
budget, airborne radar may be the best choice
choice.

Some general thoughts:


- ALS can measure more densely than airborne radar, but not necessarily denser than
airborne optical sensors
- ALS can generally measure more accurately than airborne radar, but not necessarily more
accurately than airborne optical sensors, in some cases even spaceborne ones!

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Comparison The difficult things last
3D point clouds (DTMs and DSMs)
- For measuring g DTMs over forest areas,, ALS is currentlyy the better choice. This is often the
only reason why ALS is prefered over other technologies in many applications, including
national or regional DTM/DSM generation.
- For measuring DSMs, things become quite complicated:
e.g. to generate a DSM over 200,000 km2 in 12 months, with a 5m grid spacing and 1m
height accuracy,
accuracy and with low budget
budget, airborne radar may be the best choice
choice.

Some general thoughts:


- ALS can measure more densely than airborne radar, but not necessarily denser than
airborne optical sensors
- ALS can generally measure more accurately than airborne radar, but not necessarily more
accurately than airborne optical sensors, in some cases even spaceborne ones!
- A comparison to optical sensors depends a lot on the quality of image matching! (see
following examples)
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DSM Evaluation: IKONOS images, Thun, Switzerland

Color-coded residuals between Ikonos DSM derived by matching and


Swiss Lidar DSM
Detection of systematic Lidar DSM errors (see circles)

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Tree canopy modeling

Clockwise: input CIR image, 2002 Lidar DSM, DSM using ETHZ matching method and SocetSet ATE matching.
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Comparison The difficult things last
Some general thoughts (continued):

- ALS can measure very small,


small highly reflecting objects
objects, e.g.
e g power lines which are hardly visible in
optical images, or whose measurement can not be automated.

- ALS has some advantages regarding mapping of surfaces with very little or no texture. There, image
matching usually delivers poor results, and manual measurements are also poor or slow and
cumbersome. Examples include ice / snow surfaces, sandy coasts, dunes, desserts, swamps and
wetlands.

- Fast response applications. Since ALS provides directly digital range measurements, this information
can be quickly converted to 3D coordinates. This can be important in some cases, e.g., involving
natural disasters, when small area, high resolution data are needed.

- Regarding high resolution DSMs in urban areas, ALS has still an advantage, mainly due to the poor
performance of most available image matching methods.

- A comparison between photogrammetry and ALS is given in the paper: Baltsavias, E.P., 1999. A
comparison between photogrammetry and laser scanning. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and
Remote Sensing, Vol. 54, pp. 83-94. Technology has advanced since 1999, but many conclusions are
still valid.

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Comparison The difficult things last

0.4m grid DSM in urban area, generated


from UltraCam-D digital aerial images,
using ETHZ matching software

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Final conclusion about the best technology?

Study, think, judge the requirements and available resources and decide yourselves !

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