FEASIBILITY OF MACHINE LEARNING METHODS FOR SEPARATING WOOD AND LEAF POINTS FROM TERRESTRIAL LASER SCANNING DATA
Classification of wood and leaf components of trees is an essential prerequisite for deriving vital tree attributes, such as wood mass, leaf area index (LAI) and woody-to-total area. Laser scanning emerges to be a promising solution for such a request. Intensity based approaches are widely proposed, as different components of a tree can feature discriminatory optical properties at the operating wavelengths of a sensor system. For geometry based methods, machine learning algorithms are often used to separate wood and leaf points, by providing proper training samples. However, it remains unclear how the chosen machine learning classifier and features used would influence classification results. To this purpose, we compare four popular machine learning classifiers, namely Support Vector Machine (SVM), Na¨ıve Bayes (NB), Random Forest (RF), and Gaussian Mixture Model (GMM), for separating wood and leaf points from terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) data. Two trees, an Erytrophleum fordii and a Betula pendula (silver birch) are used to test the impacts from classifier, feature set, and training samples. Our results showed that RF is the best model in terms of accuracy, and local density related features are important. Experimental results confirmed the feasibility of machine learning algorithms for the reliable classification of wood and leaf points. It is also noted that our studies are based on isolated trees. Further tests should be performed on more tree species and data from more complex environments.