Broad Area Colloquium For AI-Geometry-Graphics-Robotics-Vision

Automated Model Capture in Extended Urban Environments

Seth Teller
MIT Computer Graphics Group

Wednesday, May 31, 2000
refreshments 4:05PM
talk begins 4:15PM
TCseq201, Lecture Hall B


Environment capture, or ``geometric modeling'' -- acquiring a representation of an object in a form useful for computer simulation -- is an essential first step in visualization, simulation, and computer-aided design. Researchers have developed automated and semi-automated techniques for extracting geometric and appearance information from photographs. None of these have been applied to large, general image sets, or to spatially extended environments.

We describe the development of fully automated computer vision techniques for capturing textured 3D CAD models of urban areas directly from near-ground photographs. The scale and generality of the input image data in this problem imposes significant constraints on any proposed system design. We discuss these constraints and their implications, then present a model capture system. The system includes a novel sensor which acquires high-resolution, spherical, geo-referenced images, and accompanying algorithms which extract textured geometric models of the environment observed by the sensor.

Eliminating the human in the loop is a significant challenge from both engineering and research standpoints, and the effort has led to some powerful new techniques. The tradeoff is that achieving automation and scaling requires specialized sensor instrumentation, large numbers (typically thousands) of image observations, and significant computational resources. In contrast to the prevailing view that human intervention always improves quality, we give examples of situations in which our automated system outperforms a human operator. We describe the current status of the project and show some preliminary results.

About the Speaker

Seth Teller obtained a Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley in 1992, focusing on accelerated rendering of complex architectural environments. After post-doctoral research at the Computer Science Institute of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Computer Science, and Princeton University's Computer Science Department, he joined MIT's Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Department, and MIT's Lab for Computer Science in 1994.

Prof. Teller now co-heads the MIT Computer Graphics Group, pursuing capture, exploration, design and simulation of human-scale objects and environments. Recent research efforts include: a project to capture a three-dimensional map of the entire MIT campus, outside and in; the acquisition of a three-dimensional "time-lapse" movie of the demolition of MIT's Building 20 and the construction of the Stata Center designed by Frank Gehry; and the Educational Fusion system for authoring, deploying, and teaching computer science concepts.

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Last modified: Mon May 29 13:49:24 PDT 2000