Automated Tree Crown Discrimination Using Three-Dimensional Shape Signatures Derived from LiDAR Point Clouds

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Discrimination of different tree crowns based on their 3D shapes is essential for a wide range of forestry applications, and, due to its complexity, is a significant challenge. This study presents a modified 3D shape descriptor for the perception of different tree crown shapes in discrete-return LiDAR point clouds. The proposed methodology comprises of five main components, including definition of a local coordinate system, learning salient points, generation of simulated LiDAR point clouds with geometrical shapes, shape signature generation (from simulated LiDAR points as reference shape signature and actual LiDAR point clouds as evaluated shape signature), and finally, similarity assessment ... continued below

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Sadeghinaeenifard, Fariba May 2018.

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  • Sadeghinaeenifard, Fariba

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Discrimination of different tree crowns based on their 3D shapes is essential for a wide range of forestry applications, and, due to its complexity, is a significant challenge. This study presents a modified 3D shape descriptor for the perception of different tree crown shapes in discrete-return LiDAR point clouds. The proposed methodology comprises of five main components, including definition of a local coordinate system, learning salient points, generation of simulated LiDAR point clouds with geometrical shapes, shape signature generation (from simulated LiDAR points as reference shape signature and actual LiDAR point clouds as evaluated shape signature), and finally, similarity assessment of shape signatures in order to extract the shape of a real tree. The first component represents a proposed strategy to define a local coordinate system relating to each tree to normalize 3D point clouds. In the second component, a learning approach is used to categorize all 3D point clouds into two ranks to identify interesting or salient points on each tree. The third component discusses generation of simulated LiDAR point clouds for two geometrical shapes, including a hemisphere and a half-ellipsoid. Then, the operator extracts 3D LiDAR point clouds of actual trees, either deciduous or evergreen. In the fourth component, a longitude-latitude transformation is applied to simulated and actual LiDAR point clouds to generate 3D shape signatures of tree crowns. A critical step is transformation of LiDAR points from their exact positions to their longitude and latitude positions using the longitude-latitude transformation, which is different from the geographic longitude and latitude coordinates, and labeled by their pre-assigned ranks. Then, natural neighbor interpolation converts the point maps to raster datasets. The generated shape signatures from simulated and actual LiDAR points are called reference and evaluated shape signatures, respectively. Lastly, the fifth component determines the similarity between evaluated and reference shape signatures to extract the shape of each examined tree. The entire process is automated by ArcGIS toolboxes through Python programming for further evaluation using more tree crowns in different study areas. Results from LiDAR points captured for 43 trees in the City of Surrey, British Columbia (Canada) suggest that the modified shape descriptor is a promising method for separating different shapes of tree crowns using LiDAR point cloud data. Experimental results also indicate that the modified longitude-latitude shape descriptor fulfills all desired properties of a suitable shape descriptor proposed in computer science along with leaf-off, leaf-on invariance, which makes this process autonomous from the acquisition date of LiDAR data. In summary, the modified longitude-latitude shape descriptor is a promising method for discriminating different shapes of tree crowns using LiDAR point cloud data.

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  • May 2018

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  • June 6, 2018, 1:19 p.m.

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Sadeghinaeenifard, Fariba. Automated Tree Crown Discrimination Using Three-Dimensional Shape Signatures Derived from LiDAR Point Clouds, thesis, May 2018; Denton, Texas. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1157521/: accessed March 18, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; .