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FullAnalyze: a Research Tool for Handling Processing and Analyzing Full-waveform Lidar Data

Abstract : Airborne lidar systems (ALS) provide 3D point clouds of the topography by direct time measurement of a short laser pulse after reflection on the Earth surface. For the last decade, this technique has proved to be the ideal remote sensing tool for delivering very accurate digital terrain model (DTM) of the Earth surface, and then for answering main environmental issues such as natural hazard prevention and natural ressource management. Moreover, such active systems, also called "multiple echo lidar", allow to detect several return signals for a single laser shot. It is particularly relevant in case of vegetation areas since a single lidar survey allows to acquire not only the canopy top (the only visible layer from passive sensors), but also points inside the vegetation layer and on the ground underneath. Thus, among the different remote sensing techniques, airborne laser scanning has also proved to be the most efficient technique to characterize both forest structure and ground topography. For a few years, new airborne laser scanning systems called full-waveform lidar systems have emerged, providing not only 3D point clouds as classical ALS systems, but entire altimeter profiles of reflected energy from the Earth surface. These profiles represent the laser backscattered energy as a function of time. They give to the end-user more control and flexibility on the signal processing steps and enable to extract more information than classical multi-echo lidar data. A detailed state-of-the-art of such systems can be found in [1]. However, managing these data with spacial and time dependency is much more complex than images or 3D point clouds : raw full-waveform lidar data are sets of range profiles of various lengths that are stored in the sensor geometry following both the scan angle of the lidar system and the chronological order along the flight track. Moreover, the data volume is drastically larger than 3D point clouds: it takes about 140 GB for an acquisition time of 1.6 h with a pulse repetition frequency (PRF) of 50kHz. Furthermore, there is neither commercial nor opensource toolkit to handle full-waveform lidar data, but some constructor solutions, that are black boxes, can only extract 3D point clouds from raw data and are designed to their own sensors. Finally, there is not standard file format for full-waveform data (such as the LAS format for multi-echo data). Managing full-waveform lidar data is therefore a challenging task, and we adress this issue by developping a specific research tool: FullAnalyze.
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Contributor : William Puech <>
Submitted on : Thursday, September 10, 2009 - 10:01:24 PM
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Adrien Chauve, Frédéric Bretar, Sylvie Durrieu, Marc Pierrot-Deseilligny, William Puech. FullAnalyze: a Research Tool for Handling Processing and Analyzing Full-waveform Lidar Data. International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS), Jul 2009, Cape Town, South Africa. ⟨10.1109/IGARSS.2009.5417508⟩. ⟨lirmm-00415781⟩



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