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"autonomous cars": models, code, and papers

Prediction-Based Reachability for Collision Avoidance in Autonomous Driving

Nov 24, 2020
Anjian Li, Liting Sun, Wei Zhan, Masayoshi Tomizuka, Mo Chen

Safety is an important topic in autonomous driving since any collision may cause serious damage to people and the environment. Hamilton-Jacobi (HJ) Reachability is a formal method that verifies safety in multi-agent interaction and provides a safety controller for collision avoidance. However, due to the worst-case assumption on the car's future actions, reachability might result in too much conservatism such that the normal operation of the vehicle is largely hindered. In this paper, we leverage the power of trajectory prediction, and propose a prediction-based reachability framework for the safety controller. Instead of always assuming for the worst-case, we first cluster the car's behaviors into multiple driving modes, e.g. left turn or right turn. Under each mode, a reachability-based safety controller is designed based on a less conservative action set. For online purpose, we first utilize the trajectory prediction and our proposed mode classifier to predict the possible modes, and then deploy the corresponding safety controller. Through simulations in a T-intersection and an 8-way roundabout, we demonstrate that our prediction-based reachability method largely avoids collision between two interacting cars and reduces the conservatism that the safety controller brings to the car's original operations.


Adversarial Objects Against LiDAR-Based Autonomous Driving Systems

Jul 11, 2019
Yulong Cao, Chaowei Xiao, Dawei Yang, Jing Fang, Ruigang Yang, Mingyan Liu, Bo Li

Deep neural networks (DNNs) are found to be vulnerable against adversarial examples, which are carefully crafted inputs with a small magnitude of perturbation aiming to induce arbitrarily incorrect predictions. Recent studies show that adversarial examples can pose a threat to real-world security-critical applications: a "physical adversarial Stop Sign" can be synthesized such that the autonomous driving cars will misrecognize it as others (e.g., a speed limit sign). However, these image-space adversarial examples cannot easily alter 3D scans of widely equipped LiDAR or radar on autonomous vehicles. In this paper, we reveal the potential vulnerabilities of LiDAR-based autonomous driving detection systems, by proposing an optimization based approach LiDAR-Adv to generate adversarial objects that can evade the LiDAR-based detection system under various conditions. We first show the vulnerabilities using a blackbox evolution-based algorithm, and then explore how much a strong adversary can do, using our gradient-based approach LiDAR-Adv. We test the generated adversarial objects on the Baidu Apollo autonomous driving platform and show that such physical systems are indeed vulnerable to the proposed attacks. We also 3D-print our adversarial objects and perform physical experiments to illustrate that such vulnerability exists in the real world. Please find more visualizations and results on the anonymous website:


Kilometer-scale autonomous navigation in subarctic forests: challenges and lessons learned

Nov 27, 2021
Dominic Baril, Simon-Pierre DeschĂȘnes, Olivier Gamache, Maxime Vaidis, Damien LaRocque, Johann Laconte, VladimĂ­r Kubelka, Philippe GiguĂšre, François Pomerleau

Challenges inherent to autonomous wintertime navigation in forests include lack of reliable a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) signal, low feature contrast, high illumination variations and changing environment. This type of off-road environment is an extreme case of situations autonomous cars could encounter in northern regions. Thus, it is important to understand the impact of this harsh environment on autonomous navigation systems. To this end, we present a field report analyzing teach-and-repeat navigation in a subarctic region while subject to large variations of meteorological conditions. First, we describe the system, which relies on point cloud registration to localize a mobile robot through a boreal forest, while simultaneously building a map. We experimentally evaluate this system in over 18.6 km of autonomous navigation in the teach-and-repeat mode. We show that dense vegetation perturbs the GNSS signal, rendering it unsuitable for navigation in forest trails. Furthermore, we highlight the increased uncertainty related to localizing using point cloud registration in forest corridors. We demonstrate that it is not snow precipitation, but snow accumulation that affects our system's ability to localize within the environment. Finally, we expose some lessons learned and challenges from our field campaign to support better experimental work in winter conditions.

* Preprint. Submitted to Field Robotics. 27 pages, 20 figures, 2 tables 

Mapping Road Lanes Using Laser Remission and Deep Neural Networks

Apr 27, 2018
Raphael V. Carneiro, Rafael C. Nascimento, RĂąnik Guidolini, Vinicius B. Cardoso, Thiago Oliveira-Santos, Claudine Badue, Alberto F. De Souza

We propose the use of deep neural networks (DNN) for solving the problem of inferring the position and relevant properties of lanes of urban roads with poor or absent horizontal signalization, in order to allow the operation of autonomous cars in such situations. We take a segmentation approach to the problem and use the Efficient Neural Network (ENet) DNN for segmenting LiDAR remission grid maps into road maps. We represent road maps using what we called road grid maps. Road grid maps are square matrixes and each element of these matrixes represents a small square region of real-world space. The value of each element is a code associated with the semantics of the road map. Our road grid maps contain all information about the roads' lanes required for building the Road Definition Data Files (RDDFs) that are necessary for the operation of our autonomous car, IARA (Intelligent Autonomous Robotic Automobile). We have built a dataset of tens of kilometers of manually marked road lanes and used part of it to train ENet to segment road grid maps from remission grid maps. After being trained, ENet achieved an average segmentation accuracy of 83.7%. We have tested the use of inferred road grid maps in the real world using IARA on a stretch of 3.7 km of urban roads and it has shown performance equivalent to that of the previous IARA's subsystem that uses a manually generated RDDF.

* Accepted by IEEE 2018 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN) 

Cloud2Edge Elastic AI Framework for Prototyping and Deployment of AI Inference Engines in Autonomous Vehicles

Sep 23, 2020
Sorin Grigorescu, Tiberiu Cocias, Bogdan Trasnea, Andrea Margheri, Federico Lombardi, Leonardo Aniello

Self-driving cars and autonomous vehicles are revolutionizing the automotive sector, shaping the future of mobility altogether. Although the integration of novel technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cloud/Edge computing provides golden opportunities to improve autonomous driving applications, there is the need to modernize accordingly the whole prototyping and deployment cycle of AI components. This paper proposes a novel framework for developing so-called AI Inference Engines for autonomous driving applications based on deep learning modules, where training tasks are deployed elastically over both Cloud and Edge resources, with the purpose of reducing the required network bandwidth, as well as mitigating privacy issues. Based on our proposed data driven V-Model, we introduce a simple yet elegant solution for the AI components development cycle, where prototyping takes place in the cloud according to the Software-in-the-Loop (SiL) paradigm, while deployment and evaluation on the target ECUs (Electronic Control Units) is performed as Hardware-in-the-Loop (HiL) testing. The effectiveness of the proposed framework is demonstrated using two real-world use-cases of AI inference engines for autonomous vehicles, that is environment perception and most probable path prediction.

* 21 pages Published in Sensors: 

Steer with Me: A Predictive, Potential Field-Based Control Approach for Semi-Autonomous, Teleoperated Road Vehicles

Jun 28, 2020
Andreas Schimpe, Frank Diermeyer

Autonomous driving is among the most promising of upcoming traffic safety technologies. Prototypes of autonomous vehicles are already being tested on public streets today. However, while current prototypes prove the feasibility of truly driverless cars, edge cases remain which necessitate falling back on human operators. Teleoperated driving is one solution that would allow a human to remotely control a vehicle via mobile radio networks. Removing in-vehicle drivers would thus allow current autonomous technologies to further progress towards becoming genuinely driverless systems. This paper proposes a new model predictive steering control scheme, specifically designed for semi-autonomous, teleoperated road vehicles. The controller is capable of receiving teleoperator steering commands and, in the case of potential collisions, automatically correcting these commands. Collision avoidance is incorporated into the design using potential fields. A term in the cost function facilitates natural maneuvers, and constraints on the maximum potential keep the vehicle at safe distances from obstacles. This paper also proposes the use of high-order ellipses as a method to accurately model rectangular obstacles in tight driving scenarios. Simulation results support the effectiveness of the proposed approach.

* Accepted at The 23rd IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems, September 20 - 23, 2020 

From a Competition for Self-Driving Miniature Cars to a Standardized Experimental Platform: Concept, Models, Architecture, and Evaluation

Jun 30, 2014
Christian Berger

Context: Competitions for self-driving cars facilitated the development and research in the domain of autonomous vehicles towards potential solutions for the future mobility. Objective: Miniature vehicles can bridge the gap between simulation-based evaluations of algorithms relying on simplified models, and those time-consuming vehicle tests on real-scale proving grounds. Method: This article combines findings from a systematic literature review, an in-depth analysis of results and technical concepts from contestants in a competition for self-driving miniature cars, and experiences of participating in the 2013 competition for self-driving cars. Results: A simulation-based development platform for real-scale vehicles has been adapted to support the development of a self-driving miniature car. Furthermore, a standardized platform was designed and realized to enable research and experiments in the context of future mobility solutions. Conclusion: A clear separation between algorithm conceptualization and validation in a model-based simulation environment enabled efficient and riskless experiments and validation. The design of a reusable, low-cost, and energy-efficient hardware architecture utilizing a standardized software/hardware interface enables experiments, which would otherwise require resources like a large real-scale test track.

* Journal of Software Engineering for Robotics, vol. 5, no. 1, 2014, pp. 63-79 
* 17 pages, 19 figues, 2 tables 

Emerging AI Security Threats for Autonomous Cars -- Case Studies

Sep 10, 2021
Shanthi Lekkala, Tanya Motwani, Manojkumar Parmar, Amit Phadke

Artificial Intelligence has made a significant contribution to autonomous vehicles, from object detection to path planning. However, AI models require a large amount of sensitive training data and are usually computationally intensive to build. The commercial value of such models motivates attackers to mount various attacks. Adversaries can launch model extraction attacks for monetization purposes or step-ping-stone towards other attacks like model evasion. In specific cases, it even results in destroying brand reputation, differentiation, and value proposition. In addition, IP laws and AI-related legalities are still evolving and are not uniform across countries. We discuss model extraction attacks in detail with two use-cases and a generic kill-chain that can compromise autonomous cars. It is essential to investigate strategies to manage and mitigate the risk of model theft.

* 6 pages, 4 figures; Manuscript is accepted at ESCAR Europe 2021 conference 

AADS: Augmented Autonomous Driving Simulation using Data-driven Algorithms

Jan 23, 2019
Wei Li, Chengwei Pan, Rong Zhang, Jiaping Ren, Yuexin Ma, Jin Fang, Feilong Yan, Qichuan Geng, Xinyu Huang, Huajun Gong, Weiwei Xu, Guoping Wang, Dinesh Manocha, Ruigang Yang

Simulation systems have become an essential component in the development and validation of autonomous driving technologies. The prevailing state-of-the-art approach for simulation is to use game engines or high-fidelity computer graphics (CG) models to create driving scenarios. However, creating CG models and vehicle movements (e.g., the assets for simulation) remains a manual task that can be costly and time-consuming. In addition, the fidelity of CG images still lacks the richness and authenticity of real-world images and using these images for training leads to degraded performance. In this paper we present a novel approach to address these issues: Augmented Autonomous Driving Simulation (AADS). Our formulation augments real-world pictures with a simulated traffic flow to create photo-realistic simulation images and renderings. More specifically, we use LiDAR and cameras to scan street scenes. From the acquired trajectory data, we generate highly plausible traffic flows for cars and pedestrians and compose them into the background. The composite images can be re-synthesized with different viewpoints and sensor models. The resulting images are photo-realistic, fully annotated, and ready for end-to-end training and testing of autonomous driving systems from perception to planning. We explain our system design and validate our algorithms with a number of autonomous driving tasks from detection to segmentation and predictions. Compared to traditional approaches, our method offers unmatched scalability and realism. Scalability is particularly important for AD simulation and we believe the complexity and diversity of the real world cannot be realistically captured in a virtual environment. Our augmented approach combines the flexibility in a virtual environment (e.g., vehicle movements) with the richness of the real world to allow effective simulation of anywhere on earth.


Action Detection from a Robot-Car Perspective

Jul 30, 2018
Valentina Fontana, Gurkirt Singh, Stephen Akrigg, Manuele Di Maio, Suman Saha, Fabio Cuzzolin

We present the new Road Event and Activity Detection (READ) dataset, designed and created from an autonomous vehicle perspective to take action detection challenges to autonomous driving. READ will give scholars in computer vision, smart cars and machine learning at large the opportunity to conduct research into exciting new problems such as understanding complex (road) activities, discerning the behaviour of sentient agents, and predicting both the label and the location of future actions and events, with the final goal of supporting autonomous decision making.

* intial version, more to come - soon