Occlusion detection of traffic signs by voxel-based ray tracing using highly detailed models and MLS point clouds of vegetation

Philipp Roman Hirt, Jonathan Holtkamp, Ludwig Hoegner, Yusheng Xu, Uwe Stilla

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Visibility analysis plays a vital role in the design and placing of traffic signs in the urban street environment. This work investigates the occlusion detection of traffic lights and traffic signs caused by vegetation. The presented analysis method is built upon the inputs from the expected situation reflected by a highly detailed 3D city model and the as-is situation captured by 3D Mobile Laser Scanning (MLS). The model contains the location and orientation of streets, traffic lights, and traffic signs; the measurements add detail on irregular-shaped and morphing objects such as vegetation, respectively. The analysis covers the visibility of traffic lights and traffic signs by ray-tracing in an occupancy grid that is generated by the voxelization of the space. The voxels facilitate the distinction between occupied and empty space. The identification of unknown volumes is added and considered in the decision process, to cope with the regions invisible to the sensor. As output, we provide a visibility metric and detailed 3D space descriptions on different levels of granularity, including the knowledge of the semantic classes of traversed voxels. During the whole process, the awareness of unknown volumes is added to an otherwise binary decision between visible and invisible targets. Experiments are conducted on the TUM-MLS-2016 dataset. Results demonstrate that the proposed method is feasible for the detection of occlusions by vegetation in the street scenario, and reveal that the identification of unknown volumes proves necessary for a reliable interpretation of the measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103017
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • 3D city model
  • Mobile laser scanning
  • Point cloud
  • Urban vegetation
  • Visibility analysis
  • Voxel


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