Robots need to predict and react to human motions to navigate through a crowd without collisions. Many existing methods decouple prediction from planning, which does not account for the interaction between robot and human motions and can lead to the robot getting stuck. We propose SICNav, a Model Predictive Control (MPC) method that jointly solves for robot motion and predicted crowd motion in closed-loop. We model each human in the crowd to be following an Optimal Reciprocal Collision Avoidance (ORCA) scheme and embed that model as a constraint in the robot's local planner, resulting in a bilevel nonlinear MPC optimization problem. We use a KKT-reformulation to cast the bilevel problem as a single level and use a nonlinear solver to optimize. Our MPC method can influence pedestrian motion while explicitly satisfying safety constraints in a single-robot multi-human environment. We analyze the performance of SICNav in a simulation environment to demonstrate safe robot motion that can influence the surrounding humans. We also validate the trajectory forecasting performance of ORCA on a human trajectory dataset.
Planning for many manipulation tasks, such as using tools or assembling parts, often requires both symbolic and geometric reasoning. Task and Motion Planning (TAMP) algorithms typically solve these problems by conducting a tree search over high-level task sequences while checking for kinematic and dynamic feasibility. While performant, most existing algorithms are highly inefficient as their time complexity grows exponentially with the number of possible actions and objects. Additionally, they only find a single solution to problems in which many feasible plans may exist. To address these limitations, we propose a novel algorithm called Stein Task and Motion Planning (STAMP) that leverages parallelization and differentiable simulation to efficiently search for multiple diverse plans. STAMP relaxes discrete-and-continuous TAMP problems into continuous optimization problems that can be solved using variational inference. Our algorithm builds upon Stein Variational Gradient Descent, a gradient-based variational inference algorithm, and parallelized differentiable physics simulators on the GPU to efficiently obtain gradients for inference. Further, we employ imitation learning to introduce action abstractions that reduce the inference problem to lower dimensions. We demonstrate our method on two TAMP problems and empirically show that STAMP is able to: 1) produce multiple diverse plans in parallel; and 2) search for plans more efficiently compared to existing TAMP baselines.
For robots to perform a wide variety of tasks, they require a 3D representation of the world that is semantically rich, yet compact and efficient for task-driven perception and planning. Recent approaches have attempted to leverage features from large vision-language models to encode semantics in 3D representations. However, these approaches tend to produce maps with per-point feature vectors, which do not scale well in larger environments, nor do they contain semantic spatial relationships between entities in the environment, which are useful for downstream planning. In this work, we propose ConceptGraphs, an open-vocabulary graph-structured representation for 3D scenes. ConceptGraphs is built by leveraging 2D foundation models and fusing their output to 3D by multi-view association. The resulting representations generalize to novel semantic classes, without the need to collect large 3D datasets or finetune models. We demonstrate the utility of this representation through a number of downstream planning tasks that are specified through abstract (language) prompts and require complex reasoning over spatial and semantic concepts. (Project page: https://concept-graphs.github.io/ Explainer video: https://youtu.be/mRhNkQwRYnc )
Self-driving software pipelines include components that are learned from a significant number of training examples, yet it remains challenging to evaluate the overall system's safety and generalization performance. Together with scaling up the real-world deployment of autonomous vehicles, it is of critical importance to automatically find simulation scenarios where the driving policies will fail. We propose a method that efficiently generates adversarial simulation scenarios for autonomous driving by solving an optimal control problem that aims to maximally perturb the policy from its nominal trajectory. Given an image-based driving policy, we show that we can inject new objects in a neural rendering representation of the deployment scene, and optimize their texture in order to generate adversarial sensor inputs to the policy. We demonstrate that adversarial scenarios discovered purely in the neural renderer (surrogate scene) can often be successfully transferred to the deployment scene, without further optimization. We demonstrate this transfer occurs both in simulated and real environments, provided the learned surrogate scene is sufficiently close to the deployment scene.
We introduce a multi-sensor navigation system for autonomous surface vessels (ASV) intended for water-quality monitoring in freshwater lakes. Our mission planner uses satellite imagery as a prior map, formulating offline a mission-level policy for global navigation of the ASV and enabling autonomous online execution via local perception and local planning modules. A significant challenge is posed by the inconsistencies in traversability estimation between satellite images and real lakes, due to environmental effects such as wind, aquatic vegetation, shallow waters, and fluctuating water levels. Hence, we specifically modelled these traversability uncertainties as stochastic edges in a graph and optimized for a mission-level policy that minimizes the expected total travel distance. To execute the policy, we propose a modern local planner architecture that processes sensor inputs and plans paths to execute the high-level policy under uncertain traversability conditions. Our system was tested on three km-scale missions on a Northern Ontario lake, demonstrating that our GPS-, vision-, and sonar-enabled ASV system can effectively execute the mission-level policy and disambiguate the traversability of stochastic edges. Finally, we provide insights gained from practical field experience and offer several future directions to enhance the overall reliability of ASV navigation systems.
In this paper we investigate the effect of the unpredictability of surrounding cars on an ego-car performing a driving maneuver. We use Maximum Entropy Inverse Reinforcement Learning to model reward functions for an ego-car conducting a lane change in a highway setting. We define a new feature based on the unpredictability of surrounding cars and use it in the reward function. We learn two reward functions from human data: a baseline and one that incorporates our defined unpredictability feature, then compare their performance with a quantitative and qualitative evaluation. Our evaluation demonstrates that incorporating the unpredictability feature leads to a better fit of human-generated test data. These results encourage further investigation of the effect of unpredictability on driving behavior.
Catastrophic forgetting has been a major challenge in continual learning, where the model needs to learn new tasks with limited or no access to data from previously seen tasks. To tackle this challenge, methods based on knowledge distillation in feature space have been proposed and shown to reduce forgetting. However, most feature distillation methods directly constrain the new features to match the old ones, overlooking the need for plasticity. To achieve a better stability-plasticity trade-off, we propose Backward Feature Projection (BFP), a method for continual learning that allows the new features to change up to a learnable linear transformation of the old features. BFP preserves the linear separability of the old classes while allowing the emergence of new feature directions to accommodate new classes. BFP can be integrated with existing experience replay methods and boost performance by a significant margin. We also demonstrate that BFP helps learn a better representation space, in which linear separability is well preserved during continual learning and linear probing achieves high classification accuracy. The code can be found at https://github.com/rvl-lab-utoronto/BFP
Diffusion models have achieved remarkable success in generating high-quality images thanks to their novel training procedures applied to unprecedented amounts of data. However, training a diffusion model from scratch is computationally expensive. This highlights the need to investigate the possibility of training these models iteratively, reusing computation while the data distribution changes. In this study, we take the first step in this direction and evaluate the continual learning (CL) properties of diffusion models. We begin by benchmarking the most common CL methods applied to Denoising Diffusion Probabilistic Models (DDPMs), where we note the strong performance of the experience replay with the reduced rehearsal coefficient. Furthermore, we provide insights into the dynamics of forgetting, which exhibit diverse behavior across diffusion timesteps. We also uncover certain pitfalls of using the bits-per-dimension metric for evaluating CL.
Generating low-level robot task plans from high-level natural language instructions remains a challenging problem. Although large language models have shown promising results in generating plans, the accuracy of the output remains unverified. Furthermore, the lack of domain-specific language data poses a limitation on the applicability of these models. In this paper, we propose CLAIRIFY, a novel approach that combines automatic iterative prompting with program verification to ensure programs written in data-scarce domain-specific language are syntactically valid and incorporate environment constraints. Our approach provides effective guidance to the language model on generating structured-like task plans by incorporating any errors as feedback, while the verifier ensures the syntactic accuracy of the generated plans. We demonstrate the effectiveness of CLAIRIFY in planning chemistry experiments by achieving state-of-the-art results. We also show that the generated plans can be executed on a real robot by integrating them with a task and motion planner.