Low-cost assessment and visualization of tree roots using smartphone LiDAR, Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) data and virtual reality

Uzor, Stephen, Lantini, Livia ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0416-1077 and Tosti, Fabio ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0291-9937 (2023) Low-cost assessment and visualization of tree roots using smartphone LiDAR, Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) data and virtual reality. In: EGU General Assembly 2023, 23-28 Apr 2023, Vienna, Austria.

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Continual monitoring of tree roots, which is essential when considering tree health and safety, is possible using a digital model. Non-destructive techniques, for instance, laser scanning, acoustics, and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) have been used in the past to study both the external and internal physical dimensions of objects and structures [1], including trees [2,3]. Recent studies have shown that GPR is effective in mapping the root system's network in street trees [3]. Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology has also been employed in infrastructure management to generate 3D data and to detect surface displacements with millimeter accuracy [4]. However, scanning such structures using current state-of-the-art technologies can be expensive and time consuming. Further, continual monitoring of tree roots requires multiple visits to tree sites and, oftentimes, repeated excavations of soil.
This work proposes a Virtual Reality (VR) system using smartphone-based LiDAR and GPR data to capture ground surface and subsurface information to monitor the location of tree roots. Both datasets can be visualized in 3D in a VR environment for future assessment. LiDAR technology has recently become available in smartphones (for instance, the Apple iPhone 12+) and can scan a surface, e.g., the base of a tree, and export the data to a 3D modelling and visualization application. Using GPR data, we combined subsurface information on the location of tree roots with the LiDAR scan to provide a holistic digital model of the physical site. The system can provide a relatively low-cost environmental modelling and assessment solution, which will allow researchers and environmental professionals to a) create digital 3D snapshots of a physical site for later assessment, b) track positional data on existing tree roots, and c) inform the decision-making process regarding locations for potential future excavations.
Acknowledgments: Sincere thanks to the following for their support: Lord Faringdon Charitable Trust, The Schroder Foundation, Cazenove Charitable Trust, Ernest Cook Trust, Sir Henry Keswick, Ian Bond, P. F. Charitable Trust, Prospect Investment Management Limited, The Adrian Swire Charitable Trust, The John Swire 1989 Charitable Trust, The Sackler Trust, The Tanlaw Foundation, and The Wyfold Charitable Trust. The Authors would also like to thank Mr Dale Mortimer (representing the Ealing Council) and the Walpole Park for facilitating this research.
[1] Alani A. M. et al., Non-destructive assessment of a historic masonry arch bridge using ground penetrating radar and 3D laser scanner. IMEKO International Conference on Metrology for Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Lecce, Italy, October 23-25, 2017.
[2] Ježová, J., Mertens, L., Lambot, S., 2016. “Ground-penetrating radar for observing tree trunks and other cylindrical objects,” Construction and Building Materials (123), 214-225.
[3] Lantini, L., Alani, A. M., Giannakis, I., Benedetto, A. and Tosti, F., 2020. "Application of ground penetrating radar for mapping tree root system architecture and mass density of street trees," Advances in Transportation Studies (3), 51-62.
[4] Lee, J. et al., Long-term displacement measurement of bridges using a LiDAR system. Struct Control Health Monit. 2019; 26:e2428.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Identifier: doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu23-6908
Identifier: doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu23-6908
Keywords: LiDAR; Ground-Penetrating Radar; Data; Virtual Reality; Tree Roots
Subjects: Computing
Depositing User: Livia Lantini
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2023 12:36
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2023 12:36
URI: https://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10249

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