Several photogrammetry-based methods have been proposed that the derive three-dimensional (3-D) information from digital images from different perspectives, and lidar-based methods have been proposed that merge lidar point clouds and texture the merged point clouds with digital imagery. Image registration alone has difficulty with smooth regions with low contrast, whereas point cloud merging alone has difficulty with outliers and a lack of proper convergence in the merging process. This paper presents a method to create 3-D images that uses the unique properties of texel images (pixel-fused lidar and digital imagery) to improve the quality and robustness of fused 3-D images. The proposed method uses both image processing and point-cloud merging to combine texel images in an iterative technique. Since the digital image pixels and the lidar 3-D points are fused at the sensor level, more accurate 3-D images are generated because registration of image data automatically improves the merging of the point clouds, and vice versa. Examples illustrate the value of this method over other methods. The proposed method also includes modifications for the situation where an estimate of position and attitude of the sensor is known, when obtained from low-cost global positioning systems and inertial measurement units sensors.
Budge SE, Badamikar NS, Xie X; Automatic registration of fused lidar/digital imagery (texel images) for three-dimensional image creation. Opt. Eng. 0001;54(3):031105. doi:10.1117/1.OE.54.3.031105.