APPLIED SCIENCES, vol.13, no.10, pp.6161-6179, 2023 (SCI-Expanded)
Numerous deep learning techniques have been explored in pursuit of achieving precise road segmentation; nonetheless, this task continues to present a significant challenge. Exposing of shadows and the obstruction of objects are the most important difficulties associated with road segmentation using optical image data alone. By incorporating additional data sources, such as LiDAR data, the accuracy of road segmentation can be improved in areas where optical images are insufficient to segment roads properly. The missing information in spectral data due to the object blockage and shadow effect can be compensated by the integration of 2D and 3D information. This study proposes a feature-wise fusion strategy of optical images and point clouds to enhance the road segmentation performance of a deep learning model. For this purpose, high-resolution satellite images and airborne LiDAR point cloud collected over Florida, US were used. Eigenvalue-based and geometric 3D property-based features were calculated from the LiDAR data. These optical images and LiDAR-based features were used together to train, end-to-end, a deep residual U-Net architecture. In this strategy, the high-level features generated from optical images were concatenated with the LiDAR-based features before the final convolution layer. The consistency of the proposed strategy was evaluated using ResNet backbones with a different number of layers. According to the obtained results, the proposed fusion strategy improved the prediction capacity of the U-Net models with different ResNet backbones. Regardless of the backbone, all models showed enhancement in prediction statistics by 1% to 5%. The combination of optical images and LiDAR point cloud in the deep learning model has increased the prediction performance and provided the integrity of road geometry in woodland and shadowed areas.