Automatically Recovering Geometry and Texture from Large Sets of Calibrated Images
Three-dimensional models which contain both geometry and texture have numerous applications such as urban planning, physical simulation, and virtual environments. A major focus of computer vision (and recently graphics) research is the automatic recovery of three-dimensional models from two-dimensional images. After many years of research this goal is yet to be achieved. Most practical modeling systems require substantial human input and unlike automatic systems are not scalable. This thesis presents a novel method for automatically recovering dense surface patches using large sets (1000's) of calibrated images taken from arbitrary positions within the scene. Physical instruments, such as Global Positioning System (GPS), inertial sensors, and inclinometers, are used to estimate the position and orientation of each image. Essentially, the problem is to find corresponding points in each of the images. Once a correspondence has been established, calculating its three-dimensional position is simply a matter of geometry. Long baseline images improve the accuracy. Short baseline images and the large number of images greatly simplifies the correspondence problem. The initial stage of the algorithm is completely local and scales linearly with the number of images. Subsequent stages are global in nature, exploit geometric constraints, and scale quadratically with the complexity of the underlying scene. We describe techniques for: 1) detecting and localizing surface patches; 2) refining camera calibration estimates and rejecting false positive surfels; and 3) grouping surface patches into surfaces and growing the surface along a two-dimensional manifold. We also discuss a method for producing high quality, textured three-dimensional models from these surfaces. Some of the most important characteristics of this approach are that it: 1) uses and refines noisy calibration estimates; 2) compensates for large variations in illumination; 3) tolerates significant soft occlusion (e.g. tree branches); and 4) associates, at a fundamental level, an estimated normal (i.e. no frontal-planar assumption) and texture with each surface patch.