News Articles

PCL wins the 2011 OSS World Challenge Grand Prize

Point Cloud Library (PCL) has been recognized with the Grand Prize of the 2011 Open Source Software (OSS) World Challenge (www.ossaward.org). This is the 5th year for the World Challenge, whose purpose is to promote the development of open source software and to expand the interaction between open source communities all over the world. An international committee evaluated a total of 56 open source projects from 22 countries for this year's World Challenge. Their job must have been difficult because of the overall high quality of projects. The winners of the other four prizes were:

  • the Shark Machine Learning Library project (a collaboration between the Institute for Neural Computation at Ruhr University Bochum, nisys Gmbh, the University of Copenhagen, and Honda Research Institute Europe)
  • DIADEM (Oxford University, UK)
  • USM Extract (University of Science, Malaysia)
  • Meego Photo Sharing (Jiao Tong University, Shanghai)

The awards were announced at an inspirational event hosted by the Ministry of Knowledge and Economy in Seoul, South Korea. High ranking officials from the Ministry and other parts of the government participated, gave talks, and handed out the prizes. Deborah Bryant gave the keynote talk on "Open Governments" and…

PCL and Trimble Code Sprint 2012

It is our immense pleasure to announce the beginning of a new PCL Code Sprint sponsored by Trimble: PCL-TRCS!

PCL Code Sprints are intended to rapidly advance the capabilities of the Point Cloud Library in a certain area/subject by offering stipends to talented student developers and pairing them with knowledgeable mentors for several months of accelerated software development. These sprints have been inspired by the Google Summer Of Code (GSOC) initiative, and we will be following the same basic model. Projects will run for an initial period of 3-6 months with the same structure and performance evaluations as the GSOC program, and all of the code produced will be open source.

For this winter's PCL-Trimble Code Sprint, we have identified the following important areas for further development in PCL, and we are therefore searching for outstanding candidates (and mentors) to work on the following projects:

  1. Automated decimation: automatically reduce the number of points in the point cloud based upon the definition of a feature (i.e., not a generic spatial sampling). For example reduce the number of points used to define simple surfaces, such as…

PCL 1.3.0!

We're thrilled to announce that Point Cloud Library (PCL) version 1.3.0 has been released!

PCL 1.3

You can find the latest source and binaries on our download page: http://www.pointclouds.org/downloads/.

Thanks to the hard work of all of our awesome contributors, we've got a big list of new features. From 1.3 we are constructing the Changelist for each library separately, as they can in theory be mixed and matched with older versions (though we officially do not support this yet). The most notable overall changes are:

  • removed wxWidgets as a dependency from PCL and implemented the Image visualization classes using VTK
  • removed cminpack as a dependency from PCL and implemented the LM optimization functionality using Eigen
  • added a new library called PCL Search (libpcl_search) that has a more uniform API for nearest neighbor searches and stripped the unneeded functionality from libpcl_kdtree and libpcl_octree. Search now wraps KdTree and Octree for NN calls. This is a MINOR API BREAKING CHANGE. To change your code switch from:
    pcl::KdTree -> pcl::Search (if the purpose is to use one of its children for search)
    pcl::KdTreeFLANN -> pcl::search::KdTree
    pcl::OrganizedDataIndex -> pcl::search::OrganizedNeighbor
    
  • improved…

Large Scale 3D Point Cloud Mapping in PCL

Jochen Sprickerhof from the Knowledge-Based Systems Group of University of Osnabrück (Germany) visited Willow Garage this summer to do an internship on 3D registration and mapping.

Assembling massive datasets from a large number of individual point clouds is an important part of mobile robotics research. This allows robots to see beyond their immediate surroundings, localize in both 2D and 3D, and share large-scale maps built by other robots. One of the challenges here is how to efficiently estimate and correct the pose error in the trajectory of the robot, without sacrificing accuracy. For example, correcting high-dimensional registration data graphs that represent a large building or a city can take a very long time.

During his internship, Jochen ported his registration framework called ELCH (Explicit Loop Closing Heuristic) into the Point Cloud Library framework. ELCH tries to correct collected sensor data by finding loops in the robot trajectory, estimating the pose error the robot accumulated while driving along the loop, using point cloud registration,…

PCL-TOCS kickstart!

When we announced PCL-TOCS just a few weeks ago, we had no idea about the amazing level of interest that we would get from the community. After much deliberation, we realized that while we would like to accept more than half of the submissions, we would have to make a decision and select two for this first PCL code sprint. It is therefore our pleasure to announce the official start and the candidates that will be working on TOCS for the next 3 months:

We…

Scene Simulation for RGB-D Camera Localization

Maurice Fallon, Hordur Johannsson and John Leonard in MIT have been working on methods for 3D localization using RGB-D data from the Microsoft Kinect - KMCL.

First an entire building floor of the Stata Center was captured using a Kinect. The data was then used to build a simple plane-based 3D model using PCL (and sensor poses from Lidar-based SLAM) of about 1MB in size.

They then developed a robust algorithm for localization within the model in real-time using a particle filter.

The approach works by generating simulated range images using the 3D model for a virtual camera located the different particle poses. This approach correctly simulates the image formation model and allows for a disparity parameterized likelihood function. This allows the filter to correctly utilize the very noisy RGB-D points up to 20 meters away - data that has usually been discarded up to this.

Particles are propagated using the FOVIS…

PCL and Toyota Code Sprint 2011

It is our immense pleasure to announce the beginning of a new PCL Code Sprint sponsored by Toyota: PCL-TOCS!

PCL Code Sprints are intended to rapidly advance the capabilities of the Point Cloud Library in a certain area/subject by offering stipends to talented student developers and pairing them with knowledgeable mentors for several months of accelerated software development. These sprints have been inspired by the Google Summer Of Code (GSOC) initiative, and we will be following the same basic model. Projects will run for an initial period of 3 months with the same structure and performance evaluations as the GSOC program, and all of the code produced will be open source.

For this fall's PCL-Toyota Code Sprint, we have identified the following important areas for further development in PCL, and we are therefore searching for outstanding candidates (and mentors) to work on the following projects:

  1. Surface reconstruction and point cloud smoothing

    Accurate surface reconstruction and point cloud smoothing have been demonstrated in specific test environments with minimal clutter and when the object of interest fills most of the field of view. However, additional algorithms are needed when performing surface…


PCL 1.1.1!

We're thrilled to announce that Point Cloud Library (PCL) version 1.1.1 has been released!

PCL 1.0.1

PCL 1.1.1 is a patch release, API compatible with 1.1. Here's a few of the release highlights:

A story about -ffast-math

-fbroken-math

A rambling account of a day-long bughunt.

Yesterday a colleague discovered that when running under ecto, PCL's ascii-format pcd writer output files with corrupted colors... many of the points were incorrectly black. This pcd writer packs four bytes into a float and serializes the float with standard c++ streaming operators. This program was executed by a python script; at length Eitan discovered that if he simply omitted the import of ecto_ros, without recompiling, the files were uncorrupted.

My first thought ODR violation, which results in Undefined Behavior, AKA Nasal Demons, bugs that manifest themselves in absolutely whatever way they choose. Probably it has nothing to do with the pcd writer per se, we thought. It might be a locale issue, i.e. that it was running on this colleague’s desk, we thought... we were wrong.

It was completely reproducible, but difficult to debug: the process loaded a python interpreter, ecto, ecto_pcl, ~20 PCL shared libraries,…

Clustered Viewpoint Feature Histogram (CVFH) for Object Recognition

Aitor Aldoma from the Technische Universität Wien (TUW) spent his internship at Willow Garage working on a 3D feature called Clustered Viewpoint Feature Histogram (CVFH) useful for object recognition and pose estimation of rigid objects. The feature was integrated into PCL and the PR2 grasping pipeline to allow grasping of objects in table top scenes (see video).

CVFH is a semi-global feature that can deal with partial occlusions, noise or segmentation artefacts. Moreover, it can be learned on synthetic models of objects represented as CAD models and yet perform very well recognising objects seen with a depth sensor like the Microsoft Kinect mounted on top of the PR2. Because of the invariance of CVFH about the roll of the camera, the Camera's Roll Histogram (CRH) has been proposed to solve this final degree of freedom to provide a full 6DOF pose of the object in the scene.

Being able to learn on CAD models has several advantages. Besides simplifying the training stage as there is no need for calibrated systems, there are several grasp simulators that given a CAD model of the PR2 gripper and a CAD model of an object, can compute off-line several grasp hypothesis…

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