What is a Hole? Discovering Access Holes in Disaster Rubble with Functional and Photometric Attributes Journal Articles uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • The collapse of buildings and other structures in heavily populated areas often results in human victims becoming trapped within the resulting rubble. This rubble is often unstable, difficult to traverse, and dangerous for emergency first responders tasked with finding, stabilizing, and extricating entombed or hidden victims through access holes in the rubble. Recent work in scene mapping and reconstruction using photometric color and metric depth (RGB‐D) data collected by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) suggests the possibility of automatically identifying potential access holes into the interior of rubble. This capability would greatly improve search operations by directing the limited human search capacity to areas where access holes might exist. This paper presents a novel approach to automatically identifying access holes in rubble. The investigation begins by defining an access hole in terms that allow for their algorithmic identification as a potential means of accessing the interior of rubble. This definition captures the functional and photometric attributes of holes. From this definition, a set of hole‐related features for detection is presented. Experiments were conducted using RGB‐D data collected over a real‐world disaster training facility using a UAV. Empirical evaluation suggests the efficacy of the proposed approach for successfully identifying potential access holes in disaster rubble.


  • Kong, Christopher
  • Ferworn, Alexander
  • Coleshill, Elliott
  • Tran, Jimmy
  • Derpanis, Konstantinos G

publication date

  • September 2016