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We provide a sober look at the application of Multimodal Large Language Models (MLLMs) within the domain of autonomous driving and challenge/verify some common assumptions, focusing on their ability to reason and interpret dynamic driving scenarios through sequences of images/frames in a closed-loop control environment. Despite the significant advancements in MLLMs like GPT-4V, their performance in complex, dynamic driving environments remains largely untested and presents a wide area of exploration. We conduct a comprehensive experimental study to evaluate the capability of various MLLMs as world models for driving from the perspective of a fixed in-car camera. Our findings reveal that, while these models proficiently interpret individual images, they struggle significantly with synthesizing coherent narratives or logical sequences across frames depicting dynamic behavior. The experiments demonstrate considerable inaccuracies in predicting (i) basic vehicle dynamics (forward/backward, acceleration/deceleration, turning right or left), (ii) interactions with other road actors (e.g., identifying speeding cars or heavy traffic), (iii) trajectory planning, and (iv) open-set dynamic scene reasoning, suggesting biases in the models' training data. To enable this experimental study we introduce a specialized simulator, DriveSim, designed to generate diverse driving scenarios, providing a platform for evaluating MLLMs in the realms of driving. Additionally, we contribute the full open-source code and a new dataset, "Eval-LLM-Drive", for evaluating MLLMs in driving. Our results highlight a critical gap in the current capabilities of state-of-the-art MLLMs, underscoring the need for enhanced foundation models to improve their applicability in real-world dynamic environments.

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Tsun-Hsuan Wang, Alaa Maalouf, Wei Xiao, Yutong Ban, Alexander Amini, Guy Rosman, Sertac Karaman, Daniela Rus

As autonomous driving technology matures, end-to-end methodologies have emerged as a leading strategy, promising seamless integration from perception to control via deep learning. However, existing systems grapple with challenges such as unexpected open set environments and the complexity of black-box models. At the same time, the evolution of deep learning introduces larger, multimodal foundational models, offering multi-modal visual and textual understanding. In this paper, we harness these multimodal foundation models to enhance the robustness and adaptability of autonomous driving systems, enabling out-of-distribution, end-to-end, multimodal, and more explainable autonomy. Specifically, we present an approach to apply end-to-end open-set (any environment/scene) autonomous driving that is capable of providing driving decisions from representations queryable by image and text. To do so, we introduce a method to extract nuanced spatial (pixel/patch-aligned) features from transformers to enable the encapsulation of both spatial and semantic features. Our approach (i) demonstrates unparalleled results in diverse tests while achieving significantly greater robustness in out-of-distribution situations, and (ii) allows the incorporation of latent space simulation (via text) for improved training (data augmentation via text) and policy debugging. We encourage the reader to check our explainer video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4n-DJf8vXxo&feature=youtu.be and to view the code and demos on our project webpage at https://drive-anywhere.github.io/.

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Alaa Maalouf, Ninad Jadhav, Krishna Murthy Jatavallabhula, Makram Chahine, Daniel M. Vogt, Robert J. Wood, Antonio Torralba, Daniela Rus

Tracking and following objects of interest is critical to several robotics use cases, ranging from industrial automation to logistics and warehousing, to healthcare and security. In this paper, we present a robotic system to detect, track, and follow any object in real-time. Our approach, dubbed ``follow anything'' (FAn), is an open-vocabulary and multimodal model -- it is not restricted to concepts seen at training time and can be applied to novel classes at inference time using text, images, or click queries. Leveraging rich visual descriptors from large-scale pre-trained models (foundation models), FAn can detect and segment objects by matching multimodal queries (text, images, clicks) against an input image sequence. These detected and segmented objects are tracked across image frames, all while accounting for occlusion and object re-emergence. We demonstrate FAn on a real-world robotic system (a micro aerial vehicle) and report its ability to seamlessly follow the objects of interest in a real-time control loop. FAn can be deployed on a laptop with a lightweight (6-8 GB) graphics card, achieving a throughput of 6-20 frames per second. To enable rapid adoption, deployment, and extensibility, we open-source all our code on our project webpage at https://github.com/alaamaalouf/FollowAnything . We also encourage the reader the watch our 5-minutes explainer video in this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Mgt3EPytrw .

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Deep learning has grown tremendously over recent years, yielding state-of-the-art results in various fields. However, training such models requires huge amounts of data, increasing the computational time and cost. To address this, dataset distillation was proposed to compress a large training dataset into a smaller synthetic one that retains its performance -- this is usually done by (1) uniformly initializing a synthetic set and (2) iteratively updating/learning this set according to a predefined loss by uniformly sampling instances from the full data. In this paper, we improve both phases of dataset distillation: (1) we present a provable, sampling-based approach for initializing the distilled set by identifying important and removing redundant points in the data, and (2) we further merge the idea of data subset selection with dataset distillation, by training the distilled set on ``important'' sampled points during the training procedure instead of randomly sampling the next batch. To do so, we define the notion of importance based on the relative contribution of instances with respect to two different loss functions, i.e., one for the initialization phase (a kernel fitting function for kernel ridge regression and $K$-means based loss function for any other distillation method), and the relative cross-entropy loss (or any other predefined loss) function for the training phase. Finally, we provide experimental results showing how our method can latch on to existing dataset distillation techniques and improve their performance.

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Dataset Distillation is the task of synthesizing small datasets from large ones while still retaining comparable predictive accuracy to the original uncompressed dataset. Despite significant empirical progress in recent years, there is little understanding of the theoretical limitations/guarantees of dataset distillation, specifically, what excess risk is achieved by distillation compared to the original dataset, and how large are distilled datasets? In this work, we take a theoretical view on kernel ridge regression (KRR) based methods of dataset distillation such as Kernel Inducing Points. By transforming ridge regression in random Fourier features (RFF) space, we provide the first proof of the existence of small (size) distilled datasets and their corresponding excess risk for shift-invariant kernels. We prove that a small set of instances exists in the original input space such that its solution in the RFF space coincides with the solution of the original data. We further show that a KRR solution can be generated using this distilled set of instances which gives an approximation towards the KRR solution optimized on the full input data. The size of this set is linear in the dimension of the RFF space of the input set or alternatively near linear in the number of effective degrees of freedom, which is a function of the kernel, number of datapoints, and the regularization parameter $\lambda$. The error bound of this distilled set is also a function of $\lambda$. We verify our bounds analytically and empirically.

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A coreset is a tiny weighted subset of an input set, that closely resembles the loss function, with respect to a certain set of queries. Coresets became prevalent in machine learning as they have shown to be advantageous for many applications. While coreset research is an active research area, unfortunately, coresets are constructed in a problem-dependent manner, where for each problem, a new coreset construction algorithm is usually suggested, a process that may take time or may be hard for new researchers in the field. Even the generic frameworks require additional (problem-dependent) computations or proofs to be done by the user. Besides, many problems do not have (provable) small coresets, limiting their applicability. To this end, we suggest an automatic practical framework for constructing coresets, which requires (only) the input data and the desired cost function from the user, without the need for any other task-related computation to be done by the user. To do so, we reduce the problem of approximating a loss function to an instance of vector summation approximation, where the vectors we aim to sum are loss vectors of a specific subset of the queries, such that we aim to approximate the image of the function on this subset. We show that while this set is limited, the coreset is quite general. An extensive experimental study on various machine learning applications is also conducted. Finally, we provide a ``plug and play" style implementation, proposing a user-friendly system that can be easily used to apply coresets for many problems. Full open source code can be found at \href{https://github.com/alaamaalouf/AutoCoreset}{\text{https://github.com/alaamaalouf/AutoCoreset}}. We believe that these contributions enable future research and easier use and applications of coresets.

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Radial basis function neural networks (\emph{RBFNN}) are {well-known} for their capability to approximate any continuous function on a closed bounded set with arbitrary precision given enough hidden neurons. In this paper, we introduce the first algorithm to construct coresets for \emph{RBFNNs}, i.e., small weighted subsets that approximate the loss of the input data on any radial basis function network and thus approximate any function defined by an \emph{RBFNN} on the larger input data. In particular, we construct coresets for radial basis and Laplacian loss functions. We then use our coresets to obtain a provable data subset selection algorithm for training deep neural networks. Since our coresets approximate every function, they also approximate the gradient of each weight in a neural network, which is a particular function on the input. We then perform empirical evaluations on function approximation and dataset subset selection on popular network architectures and data sets, demonstrating the efficacy and accuracy of our coreset construction.

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We suggest the first system that runs real-time semantic segmentation via deep learning on a weak micro-computer such as the Raspberry Pi Zero v2 (whose price was \$15) attached to a toy-drone. In particular, since the Raspberry Pi weighs less than $16$ grams, and its size is half of a credit card, we could easily attach it to the common commercial DJI Tello toy-drone (<\$100, <90 grams, 98 $\times$ 92.5 $\times$ 41 mm). The result is an autonomous drone (no laptop nor human in the loop) that can detect and classify objects in real-time from a video stream of an on-board monocular RGB camera (no GPS or LIDAR sensors). The companion videos demonstrate how this Tello drone scans the lab for people (e.g. for the use of firefighters or security forces) and for an empty parking slot outside the lab. Existing deep learning solutions are either much too slow for real-time computation on such IoT devices, or provide results of impractical quality. Our main challenge was to design a system that takes the best of all worlds among numerous combinations of networks, deep learning platforms/frameworks, compression techniques, and compression ratios. To this end, we provide an efficient searching algorithm that aims to find the optimal combination which results in the best tradeoff between the network running time and its accuracy/performance.

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Pruning is one of the predominant approaches for compressing deep neural networks (DNNs). Lately, coresets (provable data summarizations) were leveraged for pruning DNNs, adding the advantage of theoretical guarantees on the trade-off between the compression rate and the approximation error. However, coresets in this domain were either data-dependent or generated under restrictive assumptions on both the model's weights and inputs. In real-world scenarios, such assumptions are rarely satisfied, limiting the applicability of coresets. To this end, we suggest a novel and robust framework for computing such coresets under mild assumptions on the model's weights and without any assumption on the training data. The idea is to compute the importance of each neuron in each layer with respect to the output of the following layer. This is achieved by a combination of L\"{o}wner ellipsoid and Caratheodory theorem. Our method is simultaneously data-independent, applicable to various networks and datasets (due to the simplified assumptions), and theoretically supported. Experimental results show that our method outperforms existing coreset based neural pruning approaches across a wide range of networks and datasets. For example, our method achieved a $62\%$ compression rate on ResNet50 on ImageNet with $1.09\%$ drop in accuracy.

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Many path planning algorithms are based on sampling the state space. While this approach is very simple, it can become costly when the obstacles are unknown, since samples hitting these obstacles are wasted. The goal of this paper is to efficiently identify obstacles in a map and remove them from the sampling space. To this end, we propose a pre-processing algorithm for space exploration that enables more efficient sampling. We show that it can boost the performance of other space sampling methods and path planners. Our approach is based on the fact that a convex obstacle can be approximated provably well by its minimum volume enclosing ellipsoid (MVEE), and a non-convex obstacle may be partitioned into convex shapes. Our main contribution is an algorithm that strategically finds a small sample, called the \emph{active-coreset}, that adaptively samples the space via membership-oracle such that the MVEE of the coreset approximates the MVEE of the obstacle. Experimental results confirm the effectiveness of our approach across multiple planners based on Rapidly-exploring random trees, showing significant improvement in terms of time and path length.

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