LOKI project, funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF)


Funding code: 03G0890A

2020 - 2023

SYSSIFOSS project, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation)


Project number: 411263134

2019 - 2022


Bernhard Höfle
Institute of Geography, Heidelberg University


HELIOS++ - Heidelberg LiDAR Operations Simulator


Stay up-to-date by following HELIOS on ResearchGate. Research news can be found in our GIScience News Blog and on Twitter: #HELIOS #3DGeo.


General Information

In 2020, HELIOS++ replaced the former version of HELIOS with a modern implementation in C++11, including Python bindings to allow easy use in existing workflows. The code and ready-for-use precompiled versions are hosted on GitHub. We invite interested researchers and developers to contribute to further development of this project by submitting pull requests. We also host an extensive wiki, where the complete functionality of HELIOS++ is documented.

Literature & How to cite HELIOS++

More information on HELIOS++ is available in our preprint. If you use HELIOS++ in your work, please cite:

Citation as BibTex:

      title={Virtual laser scanning with HELIOS++: 
             A novel take on ray tracing-based simulation 
             of topographic 3D laser scanning}, 
      author={Lukas Winiwarter and Alberto Manuel Esmorís Pena 
              and Hannah Weiser and Katharina Anders and 
              Jorge Martínez Sanchez and Mark Searle 
              and Bernhard Höfle},


HELIOS++ and its predecessor have been used extensively in different research:

3DGeo Publications

Publications from Other Research Groups

Winiwarter et al. (2021) conducted a systematic literature review based on these publications (see above).


Virtual laser scanning is a tool to create simulated point cloud data, as would be acquired by a LiDAR sensor. Such data may be used to complement real data, where data acquisition is not feasible due to economical or logistic constraints or where it is impossible, e.g. when simulating a sensor that does not exist. HELIOS++ allows the simulation of laser scanning on different platforms (airborne, UAV-based, terrestrial mobile and static) and using different data types to represent the 3D scene, including triangular meshes, digital elevation rasters, voxel grids and point clouds. The implementation in C++ allows for low runtimes and efficient memory usage, while the Python bindings pyhelios enable direct use of HELIOS++ from within Python scripts.


Simulation of an airborne laser scan over a DEM of Heidelberg (USGS SRTM 3” DEM, Winiwarter et al. 2021).

Projects using HELIOS++

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