Reinforcement Learning and Deep Learning based Lateral Control for Autonomous Driving

Li, Dong, Zhao, Dongbin, Zhang, Qichao, Chen, Yaran Artificial Intelligence 

Abstract--This paper investigates the vision-based autonomous driving with deep learning and reinforcement learning methods. Different from the end-to-end learning method, our method breaks the vision-based lateral control system down into a perception module and a control module. The perception module which is based on a multi-task learning neural network first takes a driver-view image as its input and predicts the track features. The control module which is based on reinforcement learning then makes a control decision based on these features. In order to improve the data efficiency, we propose visual TORCS (VTORCS), a deep reinforcement learning environment which is based on the open racing car simulator (TORCS). By means of the provided functions, one can train an agent with the input of an image or various physical sensor measurement, or evaluate the perception algorithm on this simulator. The trained reinforcement learning controller outperforms the linear quadratic regulator (LQR) controller and model predictive control (MPC) controller on different tracks. The experiments demonstrate that the perception module shows promising performance and the controller is capable of controlling the vehicle drive well along the track center with visual input. N recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has flourished in many fields such as autonomous driving [1] [2], games [3] [4], and engineering applications [5] [6]. As one of the most popular topics, autonomous driving has drawn great attention both from the academic and industrial communities and is thought to be the next revolution in the intelligent transportation system. The autonomous driving system mainly consists of four modules: an environment perception module, a trajectory planning module, a control module, and an actuator mechanism module. The initial perception methods [7] [8] are based on the expensive LIDARs which usually cost tens of thousands of dollars. The high cost limits their large-scale applications to the ordinary vehicles. Recently, more attention is paid to the image-based methods [9] of which the core sensor, i.e. camera is relatively cheap and already equipped on most vehicles. Some of these perception methods have been developed into products [10] [11]. In this paper, we focus on the lateral control problem based on the image captured by the onboard camera.