Effect of target color and scanning geometry on terrestrial LiDAR point-cloud noise and plane fitting

Dimitrios Bolkas, Aaron Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Point-cloud coordinate information derived from terrestrial Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) is important for several applications in surveying and civil engineering. Plane fitting and segmentation of target-surfaces is an important step in several applications such as in the monitoring of structures. Reliable parametric modeling and segmentation relies on the underlying quality of the point-cloud. Therefore, understanding how point-cloud errors affect fitting of planes and segmentation is important. Point-cloud intensity, which accompanies the point-cloud data, often goes hand-in-hand with point-cloud noise. This study uses industrial particle boards painted with eight different colors (black, white, grey, red, green, blue, brown, and yellow) and two different sheens (flat and semi-gloss) to explore how noise and plane residuals vary with scanning geometry (i.e., distance and incidence angle) and target-color. Results show that darker colors, such as black and brown, can produce point clouds that are several times noisier than bright targets, such as white. In addition, semi-gloss targets manage to reduce noise in dark targets by about 2-3 times. The study of plane residuals with scanning geometry reveals that, in many of the cases tested, residuals decrease with increasing incidence angles, which can assist in understanding the distribution of plane residuals in a dataset. Finally, a scheme is developed to derive survey guidelines based on the data collected in this experiment. Three examples demonstrate that users should consider instrument specification, required precision of plane residuals, required point-spacing, target-color, and target-sheen, when selecting scanning locations. Outcomes of this study can aid users to select appropriate instrumentation and improve planning of terrestrial LiDAR data-acquisition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-127
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Applied Geodesy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 26 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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