In this paper a methodology to compare two point clouds of an object, obtained with different equipment or in different conditions, is proposed. First, the point clouds are registered to the same reference system using an iterative algorithm that performs a rigid body transformation. Then, the standard deviation of the measurements is estimated, in order to evaluate the uncertainty in the measurements. Afterwards, two surfaces are adjusted to each of the point clouds by means of a kernel smoothing technique and compared. Finally, the effect of uncertainty in the point coordinates is considered by means of a bootstrap analysis.
The methodology was used to compare two point clouds of a beam bridge measured using two different types of terrestrial laser scanner (time-of-flight and phase-shift based systems). According to the results obtained, some statistically significant differences exist between both point clouds.