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The spaceborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems Cosmo-SkyMed, TerraSAR-X, and TanDEM-X acquire imagery with very high spatial resolution (VHR), supporting various important application scenarios, such as damage assessment in urban areas after natural disasters. To ensure a reliable, consistent, and fast extraction of the information from the complex SAR scenes, automatic information extraction methods are essential. Focusing on the analysis of urban areas, which is of prime interest of VHR SAR, in this paper, we present a novel method for the automatic detection and 2-D reconstruction of building radar footprints from VHR SAR scenes. Unlike most of the literature methods, the proposed approach can be applied to single images. The method is based on the extraction of a set of low-level features from the images and on their composition to more structured primitives using a production system. Then, the concept of semantic meaning of the primitives is introduced and used for both the generation of building candidates and the radar footprint reconstruction. The semantic meaning represents the probability that a primitive belongs to a certain scattering class (e.g., double bounce, roof, facade) and has been defined in order to compensate for the lack of detectable features in single images. Indeed, it allows the selection of the most reliable primitives and footprint hypotheses on the basis of fuzzy membership grades. The efficiency of the proposed method is demonstrated by processing a 1-m resolution TerraSAR-X spotbeam scene containing flat- and gable-roof buildings at various settings. The results show that the method has a high overall detection rate and that radar footprints are well reconstructed, in particular for medium and large buildings.
Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:51 , Issue: 2 )
Date of Publication: Feb. 2013