A Variational Approach to Semiautomatic Generation of Digital Terrain Models

  • Markus Unger
  • Thomas Pock
  • Markus Grabner
  • Andreas Klaus
  • Horst Bischof
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5876)


We present a semiautomatic approach to generate high quality digital terrain models (DTM) from digital surface models (DSM). A DTM is a model of the earths surface, where all man made objects and the vegetation have been removed. In order to achieve this, we use a variational energy minimization approach. The proposed energy functional incorporates Huber regularization to yield piecewise smooth surfaces and an L1 norm in the data fidelity term. Additionally, a minimum constraint is used in order to prevent the ground level from pulling up, while buildings and vegetation are pulled down. Being convex, the proposed formulation allows us to compute the globally optimal solution. Clearly, a fully automatic approach does not yield the desired result in all situations. Therefore, we additionally allow the user to affect the algorithm using different user interaction tools. Furthermore, we provide a real-time 3D visualization of the output of the algorithm which additionally helps the user to assess the final DTM. We present results of the proposed approach using several real data sets.


Graphic Processing Unit Digital Terrain Model Digital Surface Model Minimum Constraint Graphic Processing Unit Memory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Markus Unger
    • 1
  • Thomas Pock
    • 1
  • Markus Grabner
    • 1
  • Andreas Klaus
    • 2
  • Horst Bischof
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Computer Graphics and VisionGraz University of Technology 
  2. 2.Microsoft Photogrammetry 

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