Research papers and code for "Ching-Yao Chan":
Multiple automakers have in development or in production automated driving systems (ADS) that offer freeway-pilot functions. This type of ADS is typically limited to restricted-access freeways only, that is, the transition from manual to automated modes takes place only after the ramp merging process is completed manually. One major challenge to extend the automation to ramp merging is that the automated vehicle needs to incorporate and optimize long-term objectives (e.g. successful and smooth merge) when near-term actions must be safely executed. Moreover, the merging process involves interactions with other vehicles whose behaviors are sometimes hard to predict but may influence the merging vehicle optimal actions. To tackle such a complicated control problem, we propose to apply Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) techniques for finding an optimal driving policy by maximizing the long-term reward in an interactive environment. Specifically, we apply a Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) architecture to model the interactive environment, from which an internal state containing historical driving information is conveyed to a Deep Q-Network (DQN). The DQN is used to approximate the Q-function, which takes the internal state as input and generates Q-values as output for action selection. With this DRL architecture, the historical impact of interactive environment on the long-term reward can be captured and taken into account for deciding the optimal control policy. The proposed architecture has the potential to be extended and applied to other autonomous driving scenarios such as driving through a complex intersection or changing lanes under varying traffic flow conditions.

* 6 pages, 4 figures, IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems, Yokohama, Japan, 2017
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Ramp merging is a critical maneuver for road safety and traffic efficiency. Most of the current automated driving systems developed by multiple automobile manufacturers and suppliers are typically limited to restricted access freeways only. Extending the automated mode to ramp merging zones presents substantial challenges. One is that the automated vehicle needs to incorporate a future objective (e.g. a successful and smooth merge) and optimize a long-term reward that is impacted by subsequent actions when executing the current action. Furthermore, the merging process involves interaction between the merging vehicle and its surrounding vehicles whose behavior may be cooperative or adversarial, leading to distinct merging countermeasures that are crucial to successfully complete the merge. In place of the conventional rule-based approaches, we propose to apply reinforcement learning algorithm on the automated vehicle agent to find an optimal driving policy by maximizing the long-term reward in an interactive driving environment. Most importantly, in contrast to most reinforcement learning applications in which the action space is resolved as discrete, our approach treats the action space as well as the state space as continuous without incurring additional computational costs. Our unique contribution is the design of the Q-function approximation whose format is structured as a quadratic function, by which simple but effective neural networks are used to estimate its coefficients. The results obtained through the implementation of our training platform demonstrate that the vehicle agent is able to learn a safe, smooth and timely merging policy, indicating the effectiveness and practicality of our approach.

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Lane change is a challenging task which requires delicate actions to ensure safety and comfort. Some recent studies have attempted to solve the lane-change control problem with Reinforcement Learning (RL), yet the action is confined to discrete action space. To overcome this limitation, we formulate the lane change behavior with continuous action in a model-free dynamic driving environment based on Deep Deterministic Policy Gradient (DDPG). The reward function, which is critical for learning the optimal policy, is defined by control values, position deviation status, and maneuvering time to provide the RL agent informative signals. The RL agent is trained from scratch without resorting to any prior knowledge of the environment and vehicle dynamics since they are not easy to obtain. Seven models under different hyperparameter settings are compared. A video showing the learning progress of the driving behavior is available. It demonstrates the RL vehicle agent initially runs out of road boundary frequently, but eventually has managed to smoothly and stably change to the target lane with a success rate of 100% under diverse driving situations in simulation.

* Published at the 30th IEEE Intelligent Vehicles Symposium (IV), 2019
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Safe and efficient autonomous driving maneuvers in an interactive and complex environment can be considerably challenging due to the unpredictable actions of other surrounding agents that may be cooperative or adversarial in their interactions with the ego vehicle. One of the state-of-the-art approaches is to apply Reinforcement Learning (RL) to learn a time-sequential driving policy, to execute proper control strategy or tracking trajectory in dynamic situations. However, direct application of RL algorithms is not satisfactorily enough to deal with the cases in the autonomous driving domain, mainly due to the complex driving environment and continuous action space. In this paper, we adopt Q-learning as our basic learning framework and design a unique format of the Q-function approximator that consists of neural networks to handle the continuous action space challenge. The learning model is present in a closed form of continuous control variables and trained in a simulation platform that we have developed with embedded properties of real-time vehicle interactions. The proposed algorithm avoids invoking an additional actor network that learns to take actions, as in actor-critic algorithms. At the same time, some prior knowledge of vehicle dynamics is also fed into the model to assist learning. We test our algorithm with a challenging use case - lane change maneuver, to verify the practicability and feasibility of the proposed approach. Results from accumulated rewards and vehicle performance show that RL vehicle agents successfully learn a safe, comfort and efficient driving policy as defined in the reward function.

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Autonomous cars have to navigate in dynamic environment which can be full of uncertainties. The uncertainties can come either from sensor limitations such as occlusions and limited sensor range, or from probabilistic prediction of other road participants, or from unknown social behavior in a new area. To safely and efficiently drive in the presence of these uncertainties, the decision-making and planning modules of autonomous cars should intelligently utilize all available information and appropriately tackle the uncertainties so that proper driving strategies can be generated. In this paper, we propose a social perception scheme which treats all road participants as distributed sensors in a sensor network. By observing the individual behaviors as well as the group behaviors, uncertainties of the three types can be updated uniformly in a belief space. The updated beliefs from the social perception are then explicitly incorporated into a probabilistic planning framework based on Model Predictive Control (MPC). The cost function of the MPC is learned via inverse reinforcement learning (IRL). Such an integrated probabilistic planning module with socially enhanced perception enables the autonomous vehicles to generate behaviors which are defensive but not overly conservative, and socially compatible. The effectiveness of the proposed framework is verified in simulation on an representative scenario with sensor occlusions.

* To be appear on the 2019 IEEE Intelligent Vehicles Symposium (IV2019)
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We apply Deep Q-network (DQN) with the consideration of safety during the task for deciding whether to conduct the maneuver. Furthermore, we design two similar Deep Q learning frameworks with quadratic approximator for deciding how to select a comfortable gap and just follow the preceding vehicle. Finally, a polynomial lane change trajectory is generated and Pure Pursuit Control is implemented for path tracking. We demonstrate the effectiveness of this framework in simulation, from both the decision-making and control layers. The proposed architecture also has the potential to be extended to other autonomous driving scenarios.

* This Paper has been submitted to ITSC 2019
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A reliable controller is critical and essential for the execution of safe and smooth maneuvers of an autonomous vehicle.The controller must be robust to external disturbances, such as road surface, weather, and wind conditions, and so on.It also needs to deal with the internal parametric variations of vehicle sub-systems, including power-train efficiency, measurement errors, time delay,so on.Moreover, as in most production vehicles, the low-control commands for the engine, brake, and steering systems are delivered through separate electronic control units.These aforementioned factors introduce opaque and ineffectiveness issues in controller performance.In this paper, we design a feed-forward compensate process via a data-driven method to model and further optimize the controller performance.We apply the principal component analysis to the extraction of most influential features.Subsequently,we adopt a time delay neural network and include the accuracy of the predicted error in a future time horizon.Utilizing the predicted error,we then design a feed-forward compensate process to improve the control performance.Finally,we demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed feed-forward compensate process in simulation scenarios.

* This paper have been submitted to the 2019 IEEE Intelligent Vehicle Symposium
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Lane change is a crucial vehicle maneuver which needs coordination with surrounding vehicles. Automated lane changing functions built on rule-based models may perform well under pre-defined operating conditions, but they may be prone to failure when unexpected situations are encountered. In our study, we proposed a Reinforcement Learning based approach to train the vehicle agent to learn an automated lane change behavior such that it can intelligently make a lane change under diverse and even unforeseen scenarios. Particularly, we treated both state space and action space as continuous, and designed a Q-function approximator that has a closed- form greedy policy, which contributes to the computation efficiency of our deep Q-learning algorithm. Extensive simulations are conducted for training the algorithm, and the results illustrate that the Reinforcement Learning based vehicle agent is capable of learning a smooth and efficient driving policy for lane change maneuvers.

* 6 pages, 4 figures, 2018 IEEE Intelligent Vehicle Symposium
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As autonomous vehicles (AVs) need to interact with other road users, it is of importance to comprehensively understand the dynamic traffic environment, especially the future possible trajectories of surrounding vehicles. This paper presents an algorithm for long-horizon trajectory prediction of surrounding vehicles using a dual long short term memory (LSTM) network, which is capable of effectively improving prediction accuracy in strongly interactive driving environments. In contrast to traditional approaches which require trajectory matching and manual feature selection, this method can automatically learn high-level spatial-temporal features of driver behaviors from naturalistic driving data through sequence learning. By employing two blocks of LSTMs, the proposed method feeds the sequential trajectory to the first LSTM for driver intention recognition as an intermediate indicator, which is immediately followed by a second LSTM for future trajectory prediction. Test results from real-world highway driving data show that the proposed method can, in comparison to state-of-art methods, output more accurate and reasonable estimate of different future trajectories over 5s time horizon with root mean square error (RMSE) for longitudinal and lateral prediction less than 5.77m and 0.49m, respectively.

* Published at the 21st International Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITSC), 2018
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