Smathermather's Weblog

Remote Sensing, GIS, Ecology, and Oddball Techniques

Taking Slices from LiDAR data: Part V

Posted by smathermather on February 10, 2016

For this post, let’s combine the work in the last 4 posts in order to get a single pipeline for doing the following:

  • Calculate relative height of LiDAR data
  • Slice that data into bands of heights
  • Load the data into a PostgreSQL/PostGIS/pgPointCloud database.

# readlink gets us the full path to the file. This is necessary for docker
readlinker=`readlink -f $1`
# returns just the directory name
pathname=`dirname $readlinker`
# basename will strip off the directory name and the extension
name=`basename $1 .las`

# Docker run allows us to leverage a pdal machine with pcl built in,
# thus allowing us to calculate height.
# See
docker run -v $pathname:/data pdal/master pdal translate //data/"$name".las //data/"$name"_height.bpf height --writers.bpf.output_dims="X,Y,Z,Intensity,ReturnNumber,NumberOfReturns,ScanDirectionFlag,EdgeOfFlightLine,Classification,ScanAngleRank,UserData,PointSourceId,Height";

# Now we split the lidar data into slices of heights, from 0-1.5 ft, etc.
# on up to 200 feet. We're working in the Midwest, so we don't anticipate
# trees much taller than ~190 feet
for START in 0:1.5 1.5:3 3:6 6:15 15:30 30:45 45:60 60:105 105:150 150:200
  # We'll use the height classes to name our output files and tablename.
  # A little cleanup is necessary, so we're removing the colon ":".
  nameend=`echo $START | sed s/:/-/g`

  # Name our output

  # Implement the height range filter
  pdal translate $name"_height".bpf $bpfname -f range --filters.range.limits="Height[$START)"

  # Now we put our data in the PostgreSQL database.
  pdal pipeline -i pipeline.xml --writers.pgpointcloud.table='layer_'$nameend --readers.bpf.filename=$bpfname --writers.pgpointcloud.overwrite='false'

Now, we can use parallel to make this run a little faster:

find . -name "*.las" | parallel -j6 ./ {}&

Sadly, we can run into issues in running this in parallel:

PDAL: ERROR:  duplicate key value violates unique constraint "pointcloud_formats_pkey"
DETAIL:  Key (pcid)=(1) already exists.

PDAL: ERROR:  duplicate key value violates unique constraint "pointcloud_formats_pkey"
DETAIL:  Key (pcid)=(1) already exists.

This issue is a one time issue, however — we just can’t parallelize table creation. Once the tables are created however, I believe we can parallelize without issue. I’ll report if I find otherwise.

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