SUBMANIFOLD SPARSE CONVOLUTIONAL NETWORKS FOR SEMANTIC SEGMENTATION OF LARGE-SCALE ALS POINT CLOUDS
Semantic segmentation of point clouds is one of the main steps in automated processing of data from Airborne Laser Scanning (ALS). Established methods usually require expensive calculation of handcrafted, point-wise features. In contrast, Convolutional Neural Networks (CNNs) have been established as powerful classifiers, which at the same time also learn a set of features by themselves. However, their application to ALS data is not trivial. Pure 3D CNNs require a lot of memory and computing time, therefore most related approaches project ALS point clouds into two-dimensional images. Sparse Submanifold Convolutional Networks (SSCNs) address this issue by exploiting the sparsity often inherent in 3D data. In this work, we propose the application of SSCNs for efficient semantic segmentation of voxelized ALS point clouds in an end-to-end encoder-decoder architecture. We evaluate this method on the ISPRS Vaihingen 3D Semantic Labeling benchmark and achieve state-of-the-art 85.0% overall accuracy. Furthermore, we demonstrate its capabilities regarding large-scale ALS data by classifying a 2.5 km2 subset containing 41 M points from the Actueel Hoogtebestand Nederland (AHN3) with 95% overall accuracy in just 48 s inference time or with 96% in 108 s.