Point Cloud Library
The Point Cloud Library (or PCL) is a large scale, open project for point cloud processing, started by Willow Garage, with the purpose to accelerate 3D algorithmic work in perception for use in robotic applications. The PCL framework contains numerous state-of-the art algorithms including filtering, feature estimation, surface reconstruction, registration, model fitting and segmentation, to name a few.
PCL is released under the terms of the BSD license and is open source software. It is free for commercial and research use.
Some of the first algorithms that form the foundation of PCL today have been developed during Dr. Radu Bogdan Rusu's PhD work at Technische Universitaet Muenchen, in Munich, Germany, and then later on refined at Willow Garage in late 2009. The purpose of Dr. Rusu's work was to create a common infrastructure for 3D Point Cloud processing research and applications. Starting with March 2010, the idea of having a set of modular libraries started taking shape and a number of tools have been written as part of the Robot Operating System (ROS) framework to help the PR2 robot manipulate and navigate in complex 3D environments. The work continued, but it wasn't until November 2010, when a decision was made to start creating a new standalone project called PCL that would benefit the greater 3D community as a whole.
In late March 2011, PCL took its first steps and launched as a separate project with its own web domain (www.pointclouds.org). Its financial support quickly extended to companies such as NVIDIA, Google, Toyota, and Trimble. By June 2011, only 3 months after launch, PCL was supported by over 120 developers and contributors around the world, on 6 continents, with as many as 30 different universities, research institutes, and commercial companies contributing to the project.
Today PCL continues to grow and unite many different researchers and engineers around the world that are working on 3D perception under the same umbrella.