New Lidar Specification Approved with Backward Compatibility

by Matt Ball on November 21, 2011

The LAS 1.4 Specification was approved by the ASPRS Board on November
14, 2011. There was a good deal of back-and-forth regarding the process and specification, nicely summarized in this column that we published in V1 Magazine regarding some contentious issue with what was proposed.

Martin Isenburg, the author of the column that we published, just sent a note indicating that he’s very happy with the specification that the LAS Working Group approved. From his note, here are some of the highlights:

  • the format is fully backward and forward compatible
  • it includes new Extended Variable Length Records (EVLRs) that allow appending information such as geo-referencing or spatial indexing to the end of the file without having to rewrite the entire file
  • it defines a new Extra Bytes VLR that allows to add and self-describe additional attributes for each point such as echo width, normalized reflectivity, or shading normals

It’s great to see that the process worked well, and addressed some of the criticisms of the community, resulting in a standard that all are happy with, and that moves the practice and applications forward.

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