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Remote Sens. 2013, 5(11), 5424-5448; doi:10.3390/rs5115424

A Practical Approach for Extracting Tree Models in Forest Environments Based on Equirectangular Projections of Terrestrial Laser Scans

1
Research Group Photogrammetry, Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation, Vienna University of Technology, Gußhausstraße 27-29, A-1040 Vienna, Austria
2
Remote Sensing Laboratories, Department of Geography, University of Zurich-Irchel, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 August 2013 / Revised: 19 October 2013 / Accepted: 21 October 2013 / Published: 24 October 2013
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Abstract

Extracting 3D tree models based on terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) point clouds is a challenging task as trees are complex objects. Current TLS devices acquire high-density data that allow a detailed reconstruction of the tree topology. However, in dense forests a fully automatic reconstruction of trees is often limited by occlusion, wind influences and co-registration issues. In this paper, a semi-automatic method for extracting branching and stem structure based on equirectangular projections (range and intensity maps) is presented. The digitization of branches and stems is based on 2D maps, which enables simple navigation and raster processing. The modeling is performed for each viewpoint individually instead of using a registered point cloud. Previously reconstructed 2D-skeletons are transformed between the maps. Therefore, wind influences, orientation imperfections of scans and data gaps can be overcome. The method is applied to a TLS dataset acquired in a forest in Germany. In total 34 scans were carried out within a managed forest to measure approximately 90 spruce trees with minimal occlusions. The results demonstrate the feasibility of the presented approach to extract tree models with a high completeness and correctness and provide an excellent input for further modeling applications.
Keywords: 3D tree model; forest inventory; branching structure; tree topology; cylinder model 3D tree model; forest inventory; branching structure; tree topology; cylinder model
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Eysn, L.; Pfeifer, N.; Ressl, C.; Hollaus, M.; Grafl, A.; Morsdorf, F. A Practical Approach for Extracting Tree Models in Forest Environments Based on Equirectangular Projections of Terrestrial Laser Scans. Remote Sens. 2013, 5, 5424-5448.

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