The following sections show a number of media entries for the PCL project, ranging from a visual history of the project to a list of research presentations given by various PCL developers. Please click on the title of each section to expand it.

A History of PCL

PCL became a first-class citizen project in March 2011, when Radu B. Rusu, while working as a Research Scientist at Willow Garage, decided to create a separate standalone initiative for 3D point cloud processing and host it under Some of the first algorithms that form the foundation of PCL today have been developed independently by many research groups around the world, and have been slowly transitioned from publications into code by the PCL community. For example, three of our current PCL developers (Nico, Radu and Zoltan) have worked together under the supervision of Prof. Michael Beetz at TUM in Germany on multiple 3D topics between 2005-2010, which led to a good understanding on how a project like PCL should be structured later on.

The video shown on the right side of the screen presents the history of the code repository from March 2011 until December 2011. The code base is represented as a graph with edges that represent directories, and nodes that represent files. The icons jumping around from one part of the graph to another represent PCL developers. The colors of each node are just meant to represent the type of information stored (C++ source file, documentation, etc).

The video exhibits perfectly the collaborative nature of the project with almost continuous 24/7 changes and code commits. PCL's success draws precisely from this: assembling a pool of smart and creative international developers, that come together with complementary skills, ideologies, and different working schedules. :)

For more videos, please visit our YouTube channel at

Community Data Repositories

Last updated November 10, 2014

To facilitate the open testing of algorithms the PCL community recognizes the need for free to use data. As such a collection of open data sets can be found on the PCL SourceForge data repository, as well as the PCL GitHub data repository. The files in this repository are stored in the PCD format, which can be easily read using PCL tools.

In addition to the PCL repository there are many other data repositories containing free downloadable data (in various formats). The following is a list of such sites containing links to data that is free to use for educational work. We encourage everyone to please read each sites' licensing information for any data used and appropriately acknowledge the authors in any publications or derived work.

Community Software Repositories

  • Localization and Mapping

  • Mesh Processing

    • TransforMesh, MeshHOG and MVViewer
      C++ source for removal of self intersection as well as interest point detction in triangular meshes. Also, a multi-camera and mesh viewer is provided.
  • Nearest Neighbors, Distance and Similar

    • libNabo
      A fast k nearset neighbor library (C++, python) for low-dimensional spaces. See also ethzasl_icp_mapping at
    • PQP - A Proximity Query Package
      A library for performing several types of proximity queries on geometric models.
    • STANN
      The Simple, Thread-safe Approximate Nearest Neighbor (STANN) C++ Library.
  • Readers/Writers

  • Registration

  • Shape and Appearance Editing

    • Pointshop3D
      Pointshop3D - Pointshop3D is a system for interactive shape and appearance editing of 3D point-sampled geometry.
  • Shape Detection and Recognition

  • Surface Extraction

  • Toolkits and Misc.

    • 3DTK — The 3D Toolkit
      3DTK — The 3D Toolkit provides algorithms and methods to process 3D point clouds. It includes automatic high-accurate registration (6D simultaneous localization and mapping, 6D SLAM) and other tools, e.g., a fast 3D viewer, plane extraction software, etc.
    • CGAL
      Computation Geometry Algorithms Library. A C++ library containing algorithms for processing point clouds, meshes and much more.
    • DielmoOpenLiDAR
      DielmoOpenLiDAR is an open source software with GNU GPL license based in gvSIG for the management of LiDAR data. It allows access, visualization and analysis of the original LiDAR data.
    • Geometric Tools
      C++ library for real-time computer graphics, physics, mathematics, geometry, numerical analysis, image analysis and more.
    • Taglut
      Topological and Gepometrical Library - a Useful Toolkit. This inlcudes C++ source (with doxygen) for manipulating meshes, point clouds and other classical data from algorithmic geometry.
    • Vision and Mobile Robotics Laboratory
      Includes a Mesh Toolbox for manipulating triangular surface meshes (smoothing, registering, etc). Also, source is available for object detection, modeling and tracking as well as stereo-lidar fusion.


The following is a list of past and present events organized by the PCL development team.

Intelligent Robots and Systems

Tutorial at IROS 2012

Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition

Tutorial at CVPR 2012


Tutorial at CRV 2012


Tutorial at ICRA 2012


Tutorial at ICCV 2011


Tutorial at IROS 2011


Tutorial at RSS 2011