Simulation is an essential tool to develop and benchmark autonomous vehicle planning software in a safe and cost-effective manner. However, realistic simulation requires accurate modeling of nuanced and complex multi-agent interactive behaviors. To address these challenges, we introduce Waymax, a new data-driven simulator for autonomous driving in multi-agent scenes, designed for large-scale simulation and testing. Waymax uses publicly-released, real-world driving data (e.g., the Waymo Open Motion Dataset) to initialize or play back a diverse set of multi-agent simulated scenarios. It runs entirely on hardware accelerators such as TPUs/GPUs and supports in-graph simulation for training, making it suitable for modern large-scale, distributed machine learning workflows. To support online training and evaluation, Waymax includes several learned and hard-coded behavior models that allow for realistic interaction within simulation. To supplement Waymax, we benchmark a suite of popular imitation and reinforcement learning algorithms with ablation studies on different design decisions, where we highlight the effectiveness of routes as guidance for planning agents and the ability of RL to overfit against simulated agents.
Imitation learning (IL) is a simple and powerful way to use high-quality human driving data, which can be collected at scale, to identify driving preferences and produce human-like behavior. However, policies based on imitation learning alone often fail to sufficiently account for safety and reliability concerns. In this paper, we show how imitation learning combined with reinforcement learning using simple rewards can substantially improve the safety and reliability of driving policies over those learned from imitation alone. In particular, we use a combination of imitation and reinforcement learning to train a policy on over 100k miles of urban driving data, and measure its effectiveness in test scenarios grouped by different levels of collision risk. To our knowledge, this is the first application of a combined imitation and reinforcement learning approach in autonomous driving that utilizes large amounts of real-world human driving data.
ML-based motion planning is a promising approach to produce agents that exhibit complex behaviors, and automatically adapt to novel environments. In the context of autonomous driving, it is common to treat all available training data equally. However, this approach produces agents that do not perform robustly in safety-critical settings, an issue that cannot be addressed by simply adding more data to the training set - we show that an agent trained using only a 10% subset of the data performs just as well as an agent trained on the entire dataset. We present a method to predict the inherent difficulty of a driving situation given data collected from a fleet of autonomous vehicles deployed on public roads. We then demonstrate that this difficulty score can be used in a zero-shot transfer to generate curricula for an imitation-learning based planning agent. Compared to training on the entire unbiased training dataset, we show that prioritizing difficult driving scenarios both reduces collisions by 15% and increases route adherence by 14% in closed-loop evaluation, all while using only 10% of the training data.
* Published in CoRL 2022. Main text (8 pages, 3 figures) +
acknowledgements and references (3 pages) + appendix (7 pages, 4 figures)
We demonstrate the first large-scale application of model-based generative adversarial imitation learning (MGAIL) to the task of dense urban self-driving. We augment standard MGAIL using a hierarchical model to enable generalization to arbitrary goal routes, and measure performance using a closed-loop evaluation framework with simulated interactive agents. We train policies from expert trajectories collected from real vehicles driving over 100,000 miles in San Francisco, and demonstrate a steerable policy that can navigate robustly even in a zero-shot setting, generalizing to synthetic scenarios with novel goals that never occurred in real-world driving. We also demonstrate the importance of mixing closed-loop MGAIL losses with open-loop behavior cloning losses, and show our best policy approaches the performance of the expert. We evaluate our imitative model in both average and challenging scenarios, and show how it can serve as a useful prior to plan successful trajectories.
Real-world autonomous vehicles often operate in a priori unknown environments. Since most of these systems are safety-critical, it is important to ensure they operate safely in the face of environment uncertainty, such as unseen obstacles. Current safety analysis tools enable autonomous systems to reason about safety given full information about the state of the environment a priori. However, these tools do not scale well to scenarios where the environment is being sensed in real time, such as during navigation tasks. In this work, we propose a novel, real-time safety analysis method based on Hamilton-Jacobi reachability that provides strong safety guarantees despite environment uncertainty. Our safety method is planner-agnostic and provides guarantees for a variety of mapping sensors. We demonstrate our approach in simulation and in hardware to provide safety guarantees around a state-of-the-art vision-based, learning-based planner.
The actions of an autonomous vehicle on the road affect and are affected by those of other drivers, whether overtaking, negotiating a merge, or avoiding an accident. This mutual dependence, best captured by dynamic game theory, creates a strong coupling between the vehicle's planning and its predictions of other drivers' behavior, and constitutes an open problem with direct implications on the safety and viability of autonomous driving technology. Unfortunately, dynamic games are too computationally demanding to meet the real-time constraints of autonomous driving in its continuous state and action space. In this paper, we introduce a novel game-theoretic trajectory planning algorithm for autonomous driving, that enables real-time performance by hierarchically decomposing the underlying dynamic game into a long-horizon "strategic" game with simplified dynamics and full information structure, and a short-horizon "tactical" game with full dynamics and a simplified information structure. The value of the strategic game is used to guide the tactical planning, implicitly extending the planning horizon, pushing the local trajectory optimization closer to global solutions, and, most importantly, quantitatively accounting for the autonomous vehicle and the human driver's ability and incentives to influence each other. In addition, our approach admits non-deterministic models of human decision-making, rather than relying on perfectly rational predictions. Our results showcase richer, safer, and more effective autonomous behavior in comparison to existing techniques.