This paper presents a novel algorithm for detecting pavement cracks from mobile laser scanning (MLS) data. The algorithm losslessly transforms MLS data into a regular grid structure to adopt the proven image-based methods of crack extraction. To address the problem of lacking topology, this study assigns a two-dimensional index for each laser point depending on its scanning angle or acquisition time. Next, crack candidates are identified by integrating the differential intensity and height changes from their neighbors. Then, morphology filtering, a thinning algorithm, and the Freeman codes serve for the extraction of the edge and skeleton of the crack curves. Further than the other studies, this work quantitatively evaluates crack shape parameters: crack direction, width, length, and area, from the extracted crack points. The F
1 scores of the quantity of the transverse, longitudinal, and oblique cracks correctly extracted from the test data reached 96.55%, 87.09%, and 81.48%, respectively. In addition, the average accuracy of the crack width and length exceeded 0.812 and 0.897. Experimental results demonstrate that the proposed approach is robust for detecting pavement cracks in a complex road surface status. The proposed method is also promising in serving the extraction of other on-road objects.
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