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I am interested in finding the intersection of a Ray and a Surface in ArcObjects.

I already know of two solutions. First solution is to use the Locate method of ISurface:

Dim intersectionPoint As IPoint = surface.Locate(ray, hint)

The other solution is to use the GetLineOfSight method of IGeoDatabaseBridge (where the variable point is a calculated point along the path of the ray):

Dim geoDatabaseBridge2 As IGeoDatabaseBridge2 = New GeoDatabaseHelper
geoDatabaseBridge2.GetLineOfSight(surface, baseRay.Origin, point, intersectionPoint, Nothing, Nothing, Nothing, False, False)

Surprisingly, the GetLineOfSight method is much faster than the locate method. But I am looking for an even faster solution.

So my question is: Is there any other (and faster) ways to find the intersection between a ray and a surface? Or can you point me in the direction of literature that explains the calculations I need to roll my own?


UPDATE: I have started the process of creating my own Line of Sight algorithm. I have posted my current solution description in a blog post. Thanks again for all of the suggestions.

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Is your surface based on a TIN or raster? –  Kirk Kuykendall Jun 28 '11 at 13:10
The surface is based on a raster –  Chris Jun 28 '11 at 13:11
Are you wanting to stick with ArcObjects? If not, have you searched for using GPU for line of sight? –  Kirk Kuykendall Jun 28 '11 at 13:18
I would prefer to stick with ArcObjects. But if ArcObjects can't do it, I'll look for other options. –  Chris Jun 28 '11 at 13:20
@Chris Small things make big differences. Different approaches may be best if (a) all lines of sight emanate from the same point and use the same DEM; (b) different DEMs are used; (c) a single DEM is used and all lines of sight lie above a common point; (d) there are known bounds on the slopes of the DEM; etc. It would therefore help for you to disclose more about what you really want to accomplish and some details about the nature of the surface and these rays. –  whuber Jun 28 '11 at 13:48
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

If you really want to roll your own, it sounds like you may need a ray caster/ray tracer. A ten year old paper describes the state of the art (back then): you have to convert the surface to a TIN and create a 3D data structure (the authors propose a BSP tree of voxels) to expedite finding the intersections. Maybe you could get hold of a ray tracing engine and deploy it.

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Thanks for the information. This will come in handy when/if I have to roll my own to meet my requirements. –  Chris Jun 29 '11 at 14:54
@Chris In a series of comments, @Dan S. gives useful advice and analysis concerning ray-casting. –  whuber Jun 29 '11 at 16:53
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