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Efficient and robust lane marking extraction from mobile lidar point clouds

Jung, Jaehoon, Che, Erzhuo, Olsen, Michael J., Parrish, Christopher
ISPRS journal of photogrammetry and remote sensing 2019 v.147 pp. 1-18
algorithms, assets, data collection, georeferencing, image analysis, lidar, pavements, roads, signal strength, statistics
Surveys of roadways with Mobile Laser Scanning (MLS) are now being conducted on a regular basis by many transportation agencies to provide detailed geometric information to support a wide range of applications, including asset management. Most MLS systems provide intensity (return signal strength) data as a point attribute in georeferenced point clouds, which may be used to estimate retro-reflectivity of pavement markings for effective maintenance. Nevertheless, the extraction of pavement markings from mobile lidar data remains an open challenge, due to variable noise, degree of wear on the markings, and road conditions. This paper addresses these challenges, presenting a novel approach for efficient, reliable extraction of lane markings, including those that have been significantly worn. First, using the MLS trajectory information, the lidar data is discretized into smaller sections, and then transformed to the local coordinate system, such that the road surface is near-horizontal for reliable extraction on roads with significant grade. Subsequently, the road surface is extracted using the constrained Random Sampling and Consensus (RANSAC) algorithm and then rasterized into a 2D intensity image to apply image processing techniques, namely: image segmentation to separate the lane markings from the road pavement, and a morphological opening operation to remove small objects. However, the extracted lane markings are prone to over-segmentation, due to occlusions or worn portions caused by moving vehicles. To rectify this, topologically-similar lane markings are associated with each other by computing line parameters (i.e., orientation and distance from the origin), which enables the gaps to be filled among the associated lanes. Finally, the remaining incorrect lane markings are detected and removed through a noise filtering phase using Dip test statistics. Examples of the effectiveness and application of the methodology are shown for a variety of sites with stripes of variable condition to highlight the robustness of the approach. Using optimized parameter values, the algorithm achieved F1 scores of 89–97% when tested on a variety of datasets encompassing a wide range of road scene types.