PHOTOGRAMMETRIC POINT CLOUDS GENERATION IN URBAN AREAS FROM INTEGRATED IMAGE MATCHING AND SEGMENTATION
High-resolution imagery is an attractive option for surveying and mapping applications due to the advantages of high quality imaging, short revisit time, and lower cost. Automated reliable and dense image matching is essential for photogrammetric 3D data derivation. Such matching, in urban areas, however, is extremely difficult, owing to the complexity of urban textures and severe occlusion problems on the images caused by tall buildings. Aimed at exploiting high-resolution imagery for 3D urban modelling applications, this paper presents an integrated image matching and segmentation approach for reliable dense matching of high-resolution imagery in urban areas. The approach is based on the framework of our existing self-adaptive triangulation constrained image matching (SATM), but incorporates three novel aspects to tackle the image matching difficulties in urban areas: 1) occlusion filtering based on image segmentation, 2) segment-adaptive similarity correlation to reduce the similarity ambiguity, 3) improved dense matching propagation to provide more reliable matches in urban areas. Experimental analyses were conducted using aerial images of Vaihingen, Germany and high-resolution satellite images in Hong Kong. The photogrammetric point clouds were generated, from which digital surface models (DSMs) were derived. They were compared with the corresponding airborne laser scanning data and the DSMs generated from the Semi-Global matching (SGM) method. The experimental results show that the proposed approach is able to produce dense and reliable matches comparable to SGM in flat areas, while for densely built-up areas, the proposed method performs better than SGM. The proposed method offers an alternative solution for 3D surface reconstruction in urban areas.