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Proceedings Paper

Energy-based segmentation of very sparse range surfaces
Author(s): Mark Lerner; Terrance E. Boult
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Paper Abstract

This paper describes a new segmentation technique for very sparse surfaces which is based on minimizing the energy of the surfaces in the scene. While it could be used in almost any system as part of surface reconstruction/model recovery, the algorithm is designed to be usable when the depth information is scattered and very sparse, as is generally the case with depth generated by stereo algorithms. We describe a sequential implementation that constructs seed surfaces, automatically sets thresholds, adds points to the seeds, merges surfaces, and corrects for incorrectly added points. We discuss a parallel implementation that runs on the Connection Machine™. We show results from a sequential algorithm that processes synthetic or range finder data. The idea of segmentation by energy minimization is not new. However, prior techniques have relied on discrete regularization or Markov random fields to model the surfaces to build smooth surfaces and detect depth edges. Both of the aforementioned techniques are ineffective at energy minimization for very sparse data. In addition, out method does not require edge detection and is thus also applicable when edge information is unreliable or unavailable. The technique presented herein models the surfaces with reproducing kernel-based splines which can be shown to solve a regularized surface reconstruction problem. From the functional form of these splines we derive computable bounds on the energy of a surface over a given finite region. The computation of the spline, and the corresponding surface representation are quite efficient for very sparse data. An interesting property of the algorithm is that it makes no attempt to determine segmentation boundaries; the algorithm can be viewed as a classification scheme which partitions the data into collections of points which are “from” the same surface. Among the significant advantages of the method is the capacity to process overlapping transparent surfaces, as well as surfaces with large occluded areas.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 April 1991
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 1383, Sensor Fusion III: 3D Perception and Recognition, (1 April 1991); doi: 10.1117/12.25264
Show Author Affiliations
Mark Lerner, Columbia Univ. (United States)
Terrance E. Boult, Columbia Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 1383:
Sensor Fusion III: 3D Perception and Recognition
Paul S. Schenker, Editor(s)

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