FFT-based terrain segmentation for underwater mapping

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Date of Original Version



A method for segmenting three-dimensional scans of underwater unstructured terrains is presented. Individual terrain scans are represented as an elevation map and analysed using fast Fourier transform (FFT). The segmentation of the ground surface is performed in the frequency domain. The lower frequency components represent the slower varying undulations of the underlying ground whose segmentation is similar to de-noising/low pass filtering. The cut-off frequency, below which ground frequency components are selected, is automatically determined using peak detection. The user can specify a maximum admissible size of objects (relative to the extent of the scan) to drive the automatic detection of the cut-off frequency. The points above the estimated ground surface are clustered via standard proximity clustering to form object segments. The approach is evaluated using ground truth hand labelled data. It is also evaluated for registration error when the segments are fed as features to an alignment algorithm. In both sets of experiments, the approach is compared to three other segmentation techniques. The results show that the approach is applicable to a range of different terrains and is able to generate features useful for navigation.

Publication Title

Robotics: Science and Systems