Tracking Human Movement Indoors Using Terrestrial Lidar

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Virginia Tech


Recent developments in surveying and mapping technologies have greatly enhanced our ability to model and analyze both outdoor and indoor environments. This research advances the traditional concept of digital twins—static representations of physical spaces—by integrating real-time data on human occupancy and movement to develop a dynamic digital twin. Utilizing the newly constructed mixed-use building at Virginia Tech as a case study, this research leverages 11 terrestrial lidar sensors to develop a dynamic digital model that continuously captures human activities within public spaces of the building.

Three distinct object detection methodologies were evaluated: deep learning models, OpenCV-based techniques, and Blickfeld's lidar perception software, Percept. The deep learning and OpenCV techniques analyzed projected 2D raster images, while Percept utilized real-time 3D point clouds to detect and track human movement. The deep learning approach, specifically the YOLOv5 model, demonstrated high accuracy with an F1 score of 0.879. In contrast, OpenCV methods, while less computationally demanding, showed lower accuracy and higher rates of false detections. Percept, operating on real-time 3D lidar streams, performed well but was susceptible to errors due to temporal misalignment.

This study underscores the potential and challenges of employing advanced lidar-based technologies to create more comprehensive and dynamic models of indoor spaces. These models significantly enhance our understanding of how buildings serve their users, offering insights that could improve building design and functionality.



lidar, indoor geography, deep learning, computer vision, lidar perception, occupancy, and movement