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7.01 Point cloud types

How do we distinguish different point cloud types, and how are they used?

There are two main point cloud types: structured and non-structured point clouds.

Structured point clouds are captured by scanners with a fixed position, so-called terrestrial scanners. They deliver scan data in .e57, the industry-familiar file-format.

Advantages Disadvantages

  • Precise and high point density

  • Scanner positions are registered

  • Color and reflectivity

  • Adjustable scan resolution

  • Modeling with the help of panoramic images

  • Big data, longer processing

  • Poor coverage on elements at height

Unstructured point clouds are not connected to a precise scanner position. The points are captured by a drone or by a (handheld) mobile device.

Advantages Disadvantages

  • Fast capture, large scan area

  • Capture from the air or in places difficult to access

  • Scan resolution depends on the scan speed

  • Lower precision and point density

  • Resolution depends on the scan speed

  • Scanner positions are not available

  • No panoramas: the points need a dedicated treatment before the modeling starts