End-to-end learning has recently emerged as a promising technique to tackle the problem of autonomous driving. Existing works show that learning a navigation policy from raw sensor data may reduce the system's reliance on external sensing systems, (e.g. GPS), and/or outperform traditional methods based on state estimation and planning. However, existing end-to-end methods generally trade off performance for safety, hindering their diffusion to real-life applications. For example, when confronted with an input which is radically different from the training data, end-to-end autonomous driving systems are likely to fail, compromising the safety of the vehicle. To detect such failure cases, this work proposes a general framework for uncertainty estimation which enables a policy trained end-to-end to predict not only action commands, but also a confidence about its own predictions. In contrast to previous works, our framework can be applied to any existing neural network and task, without the need to change the network's architecture or loss, or to train the network. In order to do so, we generate confidence levels by forward propagation of input and model uncertainties using Bayesian inference. We test our framework on the task of steering angle regression for an autonomous car, and compare our approach to existing methods with both qualitative and quantitative results on a real dataset. Finally, we show an interesting by-product of our framework: robustness against adversarial attacks.
This article follows my previous one on Bayesian probability & probabilistic programming that I published few months ago on LinkedIn. And for the purpose of this article, I am going to assume that most this article readers have some idea what a Neural Network or Artificial Neural Network is. Neural Network is a non-linear function approximator. We can think of it as a parameterized function where the parameters are the weights & biases of Neural Network through which we will be typically passing our data (inputs), that will be converted to a probability between 0 and 1, to some kind of non-linearity such as a sigmoid function and help make our predictions or estimations. These non-linear functions can be composed together hence Deep Learning Neural Network with multiple layers of this function compositions.
End-to-end trained neural networks (NNs) are a compelling approach to autonomous vehicle control because of their ability to learn complex tasks without manual engineering of rule-based decisions. However, challenging road conditions, ambiguous navigation situations, and safety considerations require reliable uncertainty estimation for the eventual adoption of full-scale autonomous vehicles. Bayesian deep learning approaches provide a way to estimate uncertainty by approximating the posterior distribution of weights given a set of training data. Dropout training in deep NNs approximates Bayesian inference in a deep Gaussian process and can thus be used to estimate model uncertainty. In this paper, we propose a Bayesian NN for end-to-end control that estimates uncertainty by exploiting feature map correlation during training. This approach achieves improved model fits, as well as tighter uncertainty estimates, than traditional element-wise dropout. We evaluate our algorithms on a challenging dataset collected over many different road types, times of day, and weather conditions, and demonstrate how uncertainties can be used in conjunction with a human controller in a parallel autonomous setting.
Autonomous or driverless vehicles are a hot topic on the AI scene right now. Google, Volvo, Tesla, Uber… these are just some of the big names in the race to prove that driverless or autonomous vehicles are better and maybe even safer than human-driven vehicles. I was at a family event recently and two guests were chatting about the Artificial Intelligence (AI) component of driverless or autonomous vehicles and more specifically, how these vehicles are currently unable to detect human movement at high speed. One cited the example of a child stepping into the road whilst a vehicle was approaching at high speed. Some debate ensued about the width of lanes in the road (surrounding the vehicle) and the impact they have on the judgement of the driverless/autonomous vehicles.