Semi-automatic Road Extraction from Very High Resolution Remote Sensing Imagery by RoadModeler
Accurate and up-to-date road information is essential for both effective urban planning and disaster management. Today, very high resolution (VHR) imagery acquired by airborne and spaceborne imaging sensors is the primary source for the acquisition of spatial information of increasingly growing road networks. Given the increased availability of the aerial and satellite images, it is necessary to develop computer-aided techniques to improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of road extraction tasks. Therefore, automation of image-based road extraction is a very active research topic. This thesis deals with the development and implementation aspects of a semi-automatic road extraction strategy, which includes two key approaches: multidirectional and single-direction road extraction. It requires a human operator to initialize a seed circle on a road and specify a extraction approach before the road is extracted by automatic algorithms using multiple vision cues. The multidirectional approach is used to detect roads with different materials, widths, intersection shapes, and degrees of noise, but sometimes it also interprets parking lots as road areas. Different from the multidirectional approach, the single-direction approach can detect roads with few mistakes, but each seed circle can only be used to detect one road. In accordance with this strategy, a RoadModeler prototype was developed. Both aerial and GeoEye-1 satellite images of seven different types of scenes with various road shapes in rural, downtown, and residential areas were used to evaluate the performance of the RoadModeler. The experimental results demonstrated that the RoadModeler is reliable and easy-to-use by a non-expert operator. Therefore, the RoadModeler is much better than the object-oriented classification. Its average road completeness, correctness, and quality achieved 94%, 97%, and 94%, respectively. These results are higher than those of Hu et al. (2007), which are 91%, 90%, and 85%, respectively. The successful development of the RoadModeler suggests that the integration of multiple vision cues potentially offers a solution to simple and fast acquisition of road information. Recommendations are given for further research to be conducted to ensure that this progress goes beyond the prototype stage and towards everyday use.