Structural segmentation and classification of mobile laser scanning point clouds with large variations in point density

Yuan Li, Bo Wu, Xuming Ge

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Objects are formed by various structures and such structural information is essential for the identification of objects, especially for street facilities presented by mobile laser scanning (MLS) data with abundant details. However, due to the large volume of data, large variations in point density, noise and complexity of scanned scenes, the achievement of effective decomposition of objects into physical meaningful structures remains a challenge issue. And structural information has been rarely considered to improve the accuracy of distinguishing between objects with global or local similarity, such as traffic signs and traffic lights. Therefore, we propose a structural segmentation and classification method for MLS point clouds that is efficient and robust to variations in point density and complex urban scenes. During the segmentation stage, a novel region growing approach and a multi-size supervoxel segmentation algorithm robust to noise and varying density are combined to extract effective local shape descriptors. Structural components with physically meaningful labels are generated via structural labelling and clustering. During the classification stage, we consider the structural information at various scales and locations and encode it into a conditional random-field model for unary and pairwise inferences. High-order potentials are also introduced into the conditional random field to eliminate regional label noise. These high-order potentials are defined upon regions independent of connection relationships and can therefore take effect on isolated nodes. Experiments with two MLS datasets of typical urban scenes in Paris and Hong Kong were used to evaluate the performance of the proposed method. Nine and eleven different object classes were recognized from these two datasets with overall accuracies of 97.13% and 95.79%, respectively, indicating the effectiveness of the proposed method of interpreting complex urban scenes from point clouds with large variations in point density. Compared with previous studies on the Paris dataset, our method was able to recognize more classes and obtained a mean F1-score of 72.70% of seven common classes, being higher than the best of previous results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-165
Number of pages15
JournalISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • Classification
  • Mobile laser scanning
  • Point cloud
  • Segmentation
  • Varying point density

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computers in Earth Sciences


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