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Encode Point Cloud Data For Deep Learning

When using convolutional neural networks with point cloud data, certain core operations like convolution require input data that is regularly sampled spatially. The irregular spatial sampling of point cloud and lidar data must be transformed into some regularly sampled structure at some point in the preprocessing pipeline. There are many different approaches to how point cloud data is transformed into a dense, gridded structure [1][2][3]. This example demonstrates a simple approach known as voxelization.

Voxelization of Point Cloud Data

Start by defining a datastore for working with the Sydney Urban Objects Dataset.

dataPath = downloadSydneyUrbanObjects(tempdir);
ds = loadSydneyUrbanObjectsData(dataPath);

Obtain sample output data from datastore.

data = preview(ds);
    {1×1 pointCloud}    {[4wd]}

View sample output data from datastore

ptCloud = data{1};
label = string(data{2});

Figure contains an axes object. The axes object with title 4wd contains an object of type scatter.

Use the pcbin function to define a desired regular 3-D gridding of the coordinate system of an input pointCloud object. Use pcbin to also return an output cell array that contains spatial bin locations for each point in the input pointCloud. In this case, the input pointCloud is binned in a [32,32,32] size output grid that spans the XLimits,YLimits, and ZLimits of the input pointCloud.

outputGridSize = [32,32,32];
bins = pcbin(data{1},outputGridSize);

Each cell in bins contains the indices of the points in ptCloud.Location that fall in a particular point location. The MATLAB function cellfun can be used to define common encodings of point cloud data using bins as input.

occupancyGrid = cellfun(@(c) ~isempty(c),bins);

Define a 3-D occupancy grid which is true for grid locations that are occupied by at least one point and false otherwise.

p = patch(isosurface(occupancyGrid,0.5));
p.FaceColor = "red";
p.EdgeColor = "none";
lighting phong

Figure contains an axes object. The axes object contains an object of type patch.

Transform Datastore to Apply Point Cloud Encoding to Entire Dataset

Use the transform function of datastore to apply a simple occupancy grid encoding to every observation in an input datastore. The formOccupancyGrid function, which is included in the supporting functions section, uses the exact same approach shown above with pcbin.

dsTransformed = transform(ds,@formOccupancyGrid);
exampleOutputData = preview(dsTransformed);
    {32×32×32 logical}    {[4wd]}

The resulting datastore, dsTransformed, can be passed to deep learning interfaces including trainnet and DataLoader for use in training deep neural networks.


[1] Maturana, D. and Scherer, S., VoxNet: A 3D Convolutional Neural Network for Real-Time Object Recognition, IROS 2015.

[2] AH Lang, S Vora, H Caesar, L Zhou, J Yang, O Beijbom, PointPillars: Fast Encoders for Object Detection from Point Clouds, CVPR 2019

[3] Charles R. Qi, Hao Su, Kaichun Mo, Leonidas J. Guibas, PointNet: Deep Learning on Point Sets for 3D Classification and Segmentation, CVPR 2017

Supporting Functions

function datasetPath = downloadSydneyUrbanObjects(dataLoc)

if nargin == 0
    dataLoc = pwd();

dataLoc = string(dataLoc);

url = "";
name = "sydney-urban-objects-dataset.tar.gz";

if ~exist(fullfile(dataLoc,"sydney-urban-objects-dataset"),"dir")
    disp("Downloading Sydney Urban Objects Dataset...");
    untar(url + name,dataLoc);

datasetPath = dataLoc.append("sydney-urban-objects-dataset");


function ds = loadSydneyUrbanObjectsData(datapath,folds)
% loadSydneyUrbanObjectsData Datastore with point clouds and
% associated categorical labels for Sydney Urban Objects dataset.
% ds = loadSydneyUrbanObjectsData(datapath) constructs a datastore that
% represents point clouds and associated categories for the Sydney Urban
% Objects dataset. The input, datapath, is a string or char array which
% represents the path to the root directory of the Sydney Urban Objects
% Dataset.
% ds = loadSydneyUrbanObjectsData(___,folds) optionally allows
% specification of desired folds that you wish to be included in the
% output ds. For example, [1 2 4] specifies that you want the first,
% second, and fourth folds of the Dataset. Default: [1 2 3 4].

if nargin < 2
    folds = 1:4;

datapath = string(datapath);
path = fullfile(datapath,"objects",filesep);

% For now, include all folds in Datastore
foldNames{1} = importdata(fullfile(datapath,"folds","fold0.txt"));
foldNames{2} = importdata(fullfile(datapath,"folds","fold1.txt"));
foldNames{3} = importdata(fullfile(datapath,"folds","fold2.txt"));
foldNames{4} = importdata(fullfile(datapath,"folds","fold3.txt"));
names = foldNames(folds);
names = vertcat(names{:});

fullFilenames = append(path,names);
ds = fileDatastore(fullFilenames,ReadFcn=@extractTrainingData,FileExtensions=".bin");


function dataOut = extractTrainingData(fname)

[pointData,intensity] = readbin(fname);

[~,name] = fileparts(fname);
name = string(name);
name = extractBefore(name,".");

labelNames = ["4wd","bench","bicycle","biker",...

label = categorical(name,labelNames);

dataOut = {pointCloud(pointData,"Intensity",intensity),label};


function [pointData,intensity] = readbin(fname)
% readbin Read point and intensity data from Sydney Urban Object binary
% files.

% names = ["t","intensity","id",...
%          "x","y","z",...
%          "azimuth","range","pid"]
% formats = ["int64", "uint8", "uint8",...
%            "float32", "float32", "float32",...
%            "float32", "float32", "int32"]

fid = fopen(fname, "r");
c = onCleanup(@() fclose(fid));
fseek(fid,10,-1); % Move to the first X point location 10 bytes from beginning
X = fread(fid,inf,"single",30);
Y = fread(fid,inf,"single",30);
Z = fread(fid,inf,"single",30);

intensity = fread(fid,inf,"uint8",33);

pointData = [X,Y,Z];


function dataOut = formOccupancyGrid(data)

grid = pcbin(data{1},[32 32 32]);
occupancyGrid = cellfun(@(c) ~isempty(c),grid);
label = data{2};
dataOut = {occupancyGrid,label};