Point cloud voxel classification of aerial urban LiDAR using voxel attributes and random forest approach

Harith Aljumaily, Debra F. Laefer, Dolores Cuadra, Manuel Velasco

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The opportunities now afforded by increasingly available, dense, aerial urban LiDAR point clouds (greater than100 pts/m2) are arguably stymied by their sheer size, which precludes the effective use of many tools designed for point cloud data mining and classification. This paper introduces the point cloud voxel classification (PCVC) method, an automated, two-step solution for classifying terabytes of data without overwhelming the computational infrastructure. First, the point cloud is voxelized to reduce the number of points needed to be processed sequentially. Next, descriptive voxel attributes are assigned to aid in further classification. These attributes describe the point distribution within each voxel and the voxel's geo-location. These include 5 point-descriptors (density, standard deviation, clustered points, fitted plane, and plane's angle) and 2 voxel position attributes (elevation and neighbors). A random forest algorithm is then used for final classification of the object within each voxel using four categories: ground, roof, wall, and vegetation. The proposed approach was evaluated using a 297,126,417 point dataset from a 1 km2 area in Dublin, Ireland and 50% denser dataset of New York City of 13,912,692 points (150 m2). PCVC's main advantage is scalability achieved through a 99 % reduction in the number of points that needed to be sequentially categorized. Additionally, PCVC demonstrated strong classification results (precision of 0.92, recall of 0.91, and F1-score of 0.92) compared to previous work on the same data set (precision of 0.82-0.91, recall 0.86-0.89, and F1-score of 0.85-0.90).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103208
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Big Data
  • DBSCAN Algorithm
  • LiDAR
  • MapReduce
  • Object Classification
  • RANSAC Algorithm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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