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Orfeo ToolBox

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Orfeo ToolBox (OTB) is an open-source project for state-of-the-art remote sensing, including a fast image viewer, apps callable from Bash, Python or QGIS, and a powerful C++ API.

Orfeo ToolBox is the Earth observation programme, consisting of the dual and bilateral systems (France-Italy) Pleiades (PHR) and Cosmo-Skymed (CSK). The Orfeo ToolBox is part of ORFEO’s support program set up to prepare, support and promote the use and exploitation of images from these sensors. The methodological component is based on R&D studies and doctoral and post-doctoral research. It consists of two parts: the Orfeo ToolBox library of algorithmic bricks and Orfeo ToolBox applications demonstrating the use of the library.

Payload Data & Applications department is responsible for the development based on an eXtreme Programming development process. This method, called agile, is a test based method and is clocked by iterative cycles.


Built on the shoulders of the open-source geospatial community, Orfeo ToolBox can process high resolution optical, multispectral and radar images at the terabyte scale.

A wide variety of applications are available: from ortho-rectification or pansharpening, all the way to classification, SAR processing, and much more.

It is community driven, extensible and heavily documented.

The functionalities of the Orfeo ToolBox library are identified by the following modules:

  • Input/Output interface module for reading and writing in common image formats as well as in formats specific to remote sensing,
  • Supervised learning and classification module by SVM, SEM, SOM,
  • Module for calculating geometric descriptors and extracting information (textures, detection of contours and lines, points of interest, geometric moments, road extraction),
  • Image visualization module including advanced features for navigating large images and adjusting color rendering,
  • Image mapping module, allowing the estimation of maps of disparities or geometric transformations between pairs of images,
  • Radiometric pre-processing module including atmospheric corrections, image calibration and conversion, as well as vegetation index calculations,
  • SAR polarimetry module including RAD format reading, polarization synthesis and RADAR polarization architecture,
  • Change detection module with consideration of multi-scale, multi-sensor and 3D aspects,
  • Image decomposition and fusion module using multi-resolution techniques,
  • Geometric correction module including sensor modeling and major mapping projections.

Most of these features can be applied to large images through a transparent mechanism that reads input data in pieces and manages memory areas. They can also take full advantage of hardware resources with the seamless use of multiple processors.

The Orfeo ToolBox applications are as follows:

  • Utilities for generating thumbnails and extracting regions of interest,
  • Image viewing application and image metadata display tools,
  • Application for automatic orthorectification of images,
  • Application of automatic orthofusion of images,
  • Supervised classification application,
  • Application for detecting changes between images by supervised learning,
  • Applications for superimposing images of possibly different modalities,
  • Application of image disparity maps calculations (optical and radar),
  • Application of geometric transformations of direct and inverse images,
  • Application for 3D visualization of stereoscopic data,
  • Application of texture calculations,
  • Application of land use classification according to the Corin Land Cover convention,
  • Object recognition chain.

Orfeo ToolBox also integrates many internal libraries that provide new functionalities. Among them, we can mention:

  • ITK, for algorithmic processing such as filtering, realignment, segmentation,
  • FLTK, used for the realization of HMI,
  • OSSIM, which provides functionalities related to geometry,
  • Dxflib which allows the reading of vector databases in DXF format,
  • Boost, which provides representation and algorithmic functionalities for graphs,
  • LibSVM, which performs learning and classification by the Vector Machine Media method,
  • 6S, which plays a key role in atmospheric correction features,
  • Improved OpenJPEG, used for reading/writing JPEG2000 images,
  • OpenThread which allows multi-processor management,
  • KML for reading in kml data formats.

Technical caracteristics

Software languages are:

  • C++
  • Python
  • Java


  • IDL/Envi
  • GDAL
  • OpenGL
  • VTK

Orfeo ToolBox is compliant with the following operating systems:

  • Linux
  • macOS
  • Windows

All of Orfeo ToolBox’s algorithms are accessible from Monteverdi, QGIS, Python, the command line or C++. Monteverdi is an easy to use visualization tool with an emphasis on hardware accelerated rendering for high resolution imagery (optical and SAR). With it, end-users can visualize huge raw imagery products and access all of the applications in the toolbox.

What Payload Data & Applications department can bring you?

Payload Data & Applications department is the ideal partner for your projects. We can assist you in the different phases:

  • Consulting services around the Orfeo ToolBox library:
    • Technical expertise
    • Upstream studies
    • Preliminary analysis
    • Need analysis
    • Functional analysis
    • Prototyping
    • Demonstrators
  • Algorithmic studies
  • Algorithmic development & applications
  • Industrialized computer solution for production
  • Training services:
    • How to use the Orfeo ToolBox
    • How to develop new complex and elaborate algorithmic applications based on the Orfeo ToolBox