Research papers and code for "Wei Zhan":
For autonomous agents to successfully operate in real world, the ability to anticipate future motions of surrounding entities in the scene can greatly enhance their safety levels since potentially dangerous situations could be avoided in advance. While impressive results have been shown on predicting each agent's behavior independently, we argue that it is not valid to consider road entities individually since transitions of vehicle states are highly coupled. Moreover, as the predicted horizon becomes longer, modeling prediction uncertainties and multi-modal distributions over future sequences will turn into a more challenging task. In this paper, we address this challenge by presenting a multi-modal probabilistic prediction approach. The proposed method is based on a generative model and is capable of jointly predicting sequential motions of each pair of interacting agents. Most importantly, our model is interpretable, which can explain the underneath logic as well as obtain more reliability to use in real applications. A complicate real-world roundabout scenario is utilized to implement and examine the proposed method.

* submitted to 2019 IEEE Intelligent Vehicles Symposium (IV)
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A novel color image enhancement method is proposed based on Retinex to enhance color images under non-uniform illumination or poor visibility conditions. Different from the conventional Retinex algorithms, the Weighted Guided Image Filter is used as a surround function instead of the Gaussian filter to estimate the background illumination, which can overcome the drawbacks of local blur and halo artifact that may appear by Gaussian filter. To avoid color distortion, the image is converted to the HSI color model, and only the intensity channel is enhanced. Then a linear color restoration algorithm is adopted to convert the enhanced intensity image back to the RGB color model, which ensures the hue is constant and undistorted. Experimental results show that the proposed method is effective to enhance both color and gray images with low exposure and non-uniform illumination, resulting in better visual quality than traditional method. At the same time, the objective evaluation indicators are also superior to the conventional methods. In addition, the efficiency of the proposed method is also improved thanks to the linear color restoration algorithm.

* 15 pages
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In a given scenario, simultaneously and accurately predicting every possible interaction of traffic participants is an important capability for autonomous vehicles. The majority of current researches focused on the prediction of an single entity without incorporating the environment information. Although some approaches aimed to predict multiple vehicles, they either predicted each vehicle independently with no considerations on possible interaction with surrounding entities or generated discretized joint motions which cannot be directly used in decision making and motion planning for autonomous vehicle. In this paper, we present a probabilistic framework that is able to jointly predict continuous motions for multiple interacting road participants under any driving scenarios and is capable of forecasting the duration of each interaction, which can enhance the prediction performance and efficiency. The proposed traffic scene prediction framework contains two hierarchical modules: the upper module and the lower module. The upper module forecasts the intention of the predicted vehicle, while the lower module predicts motions for interacting scene entities. An exemplar real-world scenario is used to implement and examine the proposed framework.

* 2018 IEEE 21st International Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITSC)
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Accurate and robust tracking of surrounding road participants plays an important role in autonomous driving. However, there is usually no prior knowledge of the number of tracking targets due to object emergence, object disappearance and false alarms. To overcome this challenge, we propose a generic vehicle tracking framework based on modified mixture particle filter, which can make the number of tracking targets adaptive to real-time observations and track all the vehicles within sensor range simultaneously in a uniform architecture without explicit data association. Each object corresponds to a mixture component whose distribution is non-parametric and approximated by particle hypotheses. Most tracking approaches employ vehicle kinematic models as the prediction model. However, it is hard for these models to make proper predictions when sensor measurements are lost or become low quality due to partial or complete occlusions. Moreover, these models are incapable of forecasting sudden maneuvers. To address these problems, we propose to incorporate learning-based behavioral models instead of pure vehicle kinematic models to realize prediction in the prior update of recursive Bayesian state estimation. Two typical driving scenarios including lane keeping and lane change are demonstrated to verify the effectiveness and accuracy of the proposed framework as well as the advantages of employing learning-based models.

* Presented in 2018 IEEE Intelligent Vehicles Symposium (IV)
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Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are on the road. To safely and efficiently interact with other road participants, AVs have to accurately predict the behavior of surrounding vehicles and plan accordingly. Such prediction should be probabilistic, to address the uncertainties in human behavior. Such prediction should also be interactive, since the distribution over all possible trajectories of the predicted vehicle depends not only on historical information, but also on future plans of other vehicles that interact with it. To achieve such interaction-aware predictions, we propose a probabilistic prediction approach based on hierarchical inverse reinforcement learning (IRL). First, we explicitly consider the hierarchical trajectory-generation process of human drivers involving both discrete and continuous driving decisions. Based on this, the distribution over all future trajectories of the predicted vehicle is formulated as a mixture of distributions partitioned by the discrete decisions. Then we apply IRL hierarchically to learn the distributions from real human demonstrations. A case study for the ramp-merging driving scenario is provided. The quantitative results show that the proposed approach can accurately predict both the discrete driving decisions such as yield or pass as well as the continuous trajectories.

* ITSC2018
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Accurately predicting the possible behaviors of traffic participants is an essential capability for future autonomous vehicles. The majority of current researches fix the number of driving intentions by considering only a specific scenario. However, distinct driving environments usually contain various possible driving maneuvers. Therefore, a intention prediction method that can adapt to different traffic scenarios is needed. To further improve the overall vehicle prediction performance, motion information is usually incorporated with classified intentions. As suggested in some literature, the methods that directly predict possible goal locations can achieve better performance for long-term motion prediction than other approaches due to their automatic incorporation of environment constraints. Moreover, by obtaining the temporal information of the predicted destinations, the optimal trajectories for predicted vehicles as well as the desirable path for ego autonomous vehicle could be easily generated. In this paper, we propose a Semantic-based Intention and Motion Prediction (SIMP) method, which can be adapted to any driving scenarios by using semantic-defined vehicle behaviors. It utilizes a probabilistic framework based on deep neural network to estimate the intentions, final locations, and the corresponding time information for surrounding vehicles. An exemplar real-world scenario was used to implement and examine the proposed method.

* This paper has been submitted to the 2018 IEEE Intelligent Vehicles (IV) Symposium
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We propose a new method for fusing a LIDAR point cloud and camera-captured images in the deep convolutional neural network (CNN). The proposed method constructs a new layer called non-homogeneous pooling layer to transform features between bird view map and front view map. The sparse LIDAR point cloud is used to construct the mapping between the two maps. The pooling layer allows efficient fusion of the bird view and front view features at any stage of the network. This is favorable for the 3D-object detection using camera-LIDAR fusion in autonomous driving scenarios. A corresponding deep CNN is designed and tested on the KITTI bird view object detection dataset, which produces 3D bounding boxes from the bird view map. The fusion method shows particular benefit for detection of pedestrians in the bird view compared to other fusion-based object detection networks.

* 10 pages, 6 figures, 3 tables
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A high redundant non-holonomic humanoid mobile dual-arm manipulator system is presented in this paper where the motion planning to realize "human-like" autonomous navigation and manipulation tasks is studied. Firstly, an improved MaxiMin NSGA-II algorithm, which optimizes five objective functions to solve the problems of singularity, redundancy, and coupling between mobile base and manipulator simultaneously, is proposed to design the optimal pose to manipulate the target object. Then, in order to link the initial pose and that optimal pose, an off-line motion planning algorithm is designed. In detail, an efficient direct-connect bidirectional RRT and gradient descent algorithm is proposed to reduce the sampled nodes largely, and a geometric optimization method is proposed for path pruning. Besides, head forward behaviors are realized by calculating the reasonable orientations and assigning them to the mobile base to improve the quality of human-robot interaction. Thirdly, the extension to on-line planning is done by introducing real-time sensing, collision-test and control cycles to update robotic motion in dynamic environments. Fourthly, an EEs' via-point-based multi-objective genetic algorithm is proposed to design the "human-like" via-poses by optimizing four objective functions. Finally, numerous simulations are presented to validate the effectiveness of proposed algorithms.

* 26 pages, 9 figures
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Understanding human driving behavior is important for autonomous vehicles. In this paper, we propose an interpretable human behavior model in interactive driving scenarios based on the cumulative prospect theory (CPT). As a non-expected utility theory, CPT can well explain some systematically biased or ``irrational'' behavior/decisions of human that cannot be explained by the expected utility theory. Hence, the goal of this work is to formulate the human drivers' behavior generation model with CPT so that some ``irrational'' behavior or decisions of human can be better captured and predicted. Towards such a goal, we first develop a CPT-driven decision-making model focusing on driving scenarios with two interacting agents. A hierarchical learning algorithm is proposed afterward to learn the utility function, the value function, and the decision weighting function in the CPT model. A case study for roundabout merging is also provided as verification. With real driving data, the prediction performances of three different models are compared: a predefined model based on time-to-collision (TTC), a learning-based model based on neural networks, and the proposed CPT-based model. The results show that the proposed model outperforms the TTC model and achieves similar performance as the learning-based model with much less training data and better interpretability.

* accepted to the 2019 IEEE Intelligent Transportation System Conference (ITSC2019)
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Coordination recognition and subtle pattern prediction of future trajectories play a significant role when modeling interactive behaviors of multiple agents. Due to the essential property of uncertainty in the future evolution, deterministic predictors are not sufficiently safe and robust. In order to tackle the task of probabilistic prediction for multiple, interactive entities, we propose a coordination and trajectory prediction system (CTPS), which has a hierarchical structure including a macro-level coordination recognition module and a micro-level subtle pattern prediction module which solves a probabilistic generation task. We illustrate two types of representation of the coordination variable: categorized and real-valued, and compare their effects and advantages based on empirical studies. We also bring the ideas of Bayesian deep learning into deep generative models to generate diversified prediction hypotheses. The proposed system is tested on multiple driving datasets in various traffic scenarios, which achieves better performance than baseline approaches in terms of a set of evaluation metrics. The results also show that using categorized coordination can better capture multi-modality and generate more diversified samples than the real-valued coordination, while the latter can generate prediction hypotheses with smaller errors with a sacrifice of sample diversity. Moreover, employing neural networks with weight uncertainty is able to generate samples with larger variance and diversity.

* Accepted by 2019 IEEE Intelligent Vehicles Symposium (IV)
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Accurate and robust recognition and prediction of traffic situation plays an important role in autonomous driving, which is a prerequisite for risk assessment and effective decision making. Although there exist a lot of works dealing with modeling driver behavior of a single object, it remains a challenge to make predictions for multiple highly interactive agents that react to each other simultaneously. In this work, we propose a generic probabilistic hierarchical recognition and prediction framework which employs a two-layer Hidden Markov Model (TLHMM) to obtain the distribution of potential situations and a learning-based dynamic scene evolution model to sample a group of future trajectories. Instead of predicting motions of a single entity, we propose to get the joint distribution by modeling multiple interactive agents as a whole system. Moreover, due to the decoupling property of the layered structure, our model is suitable for knowledge transfer from simulation to real world applications as well as among different traffic scenarios, which can reduce the computational efforts of training and the demand for a large data amount. A case study of highway ramp merging scenario is demonstrated to verify the effectiveness and accuracy of the proposed framework.

* Accepted by The 21st IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems (2018 IEEE ITSC)
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For safe and efficient planning and control in autonomous driving, we need a driving policy which can achieve desirable driving quality in long-term horizon with guaranteed safety and feasibility. Optimization-based approaches, such as Model Predictive Control (MPC), can provide such optimal policies, but their computational complexity is generally unacceptable for real-time implementation. To address this problem, we propose a fast integrated planning and control framework that combines learning- and optimization-based approaches in a two-layer hierarchical structure. The first layer, defined as the "policy layer", is established by a neural network which learns the long-term optimal driving policy generated by MPC. The second layer, called the "execution layer", is a short-term optimization-based controller that tracks the reference trajecotries given by the "policy layer" with guaranteed short-term safety and feasibility. Moreover, with efficient and highly-representative features, a small-size neural network is sufficient in the "policy layer" to handle many complicated driving scenarios. This renders online imitation learning with Dataset Aggregation (DAgger) so that the performance of the "policy layer" can be improved rapidly and continuously online. Several exampled driving scenarios are demonstrated to verify the effectiveness and efficiency of the proposed framework.

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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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Typically, autonomous cars optimize for a combination of safety, efficiency, and driving quality. But as we get better at this optimization, we start seeing behavior go from too conservative to too aggressive. The car's behavior exposes the incentives we provide in its cost function. In this work, we argue for cars that are not optimizing a purely selfish cost, but also try to be courteous to other interactive drivers. We formalize courtesy as a term in the objective that measures the increase in another driver's cost induced by the autonomous car's behavior. Such a courtesy term enables the robot car to be aware of possible irrationality of the human behavior, and plan accordingly. We analyze the effect of courtesy in a variety of scenarios. We find, for example, that courteous robot cars leave more space when merging in front of a human driver. Moreover, we find that such a courtesy term can help explain real human driver behavior on the NGSIM dataset.

* International Conference on Intelligent Robots (IROS) 2018
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Autonomous vehicles should be able to generate accurate probabilistic predictions for uncertain behavior of other road users. Moreover, reactive predictions are necessary in highly interactive driving scenarios to answer "what if I take this action in the future" for autonomous vehicles. There is no existing unified framework to homogenize the problem formulation, representation simplification, and evaluation metric for various prediction methods, such as probabilistic graphical models (PGM), neural networks (NN) and inverse reinforcement learning (IRL). In this paper, we formulate a probabilistic reaction prediction problem, and reveal the relationship between reaction and situation prediction problems. We employ prototype trajectories with designated motion patterns other than "intention" to homogenize the representation so that probabilities corresponding to each trajectory generated by different methods can be evaluated. We also discuss the reasons why "intention" is not suitable to serve as a motion indicator in highly interactive scenarios. We propose to use Brier score as the baseline metric for evaluation. In order to reveal the fatality of the consequences when the predictions are adopted by decision-making and planning, we propose a fatality-aware metric, which is a weighted Brier score based on the criticality of the trajectory pairs of the interacting entities. Conservatism and non-defensiveness are defined from the weighted Brier score to indicate the consequences caused by inaccurate predictions. Modified methods based on PGM, NN and IRL are provided to generate probabilistic reaction predictions in an exemplar scenario of nudging from a highway ramp. The results are evaluated by the baseline and proposed metrics to construct a mini benchmark. Analysis on the properties of each method is also provided by comparing the baseline and proposed metric scores.

* 2018 IEEE 21st International Conference on Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITSC)
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Web 2.0 has brought with it numerous user-produced data revealing one's thoughts, experiences, and knowledge, which are a great source for many tasks, such as information extraction, and knowledge base construction. However, the colloquial nature of the texts poses new challenges for current natural language processing techniques, which are more adapt to the formal form of the language. Ellipsis is a common linguistic phenomenon that some words are left out as they are understood from the context, especially in oral utterance, hindering the improvement of dependency parsing, which is of great importance for tasks relied on the meaning of the sentence. In order to promote research in this area, we are releasing a Chinese dependency treebank of 319 weibos, containing 572 sentences with omissions restored and contexts reserved.

* The treebank is available at https://github.com/lancopku/Chinese-Dependency-Treebank-with-Ellipsis
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The 20 Questions (Q20) game is a well known game which encourages deductive reasoning and creativity. In the game, the answerer first thinks of an object such as a famous person or a kind of animal. Then the questioner tries to guess the object by asking 20 questions. In a Q20 game system, the user is considered as the answerer while the system itself acts as the questioner which requires a good strategy of question selection to figure out the correct object and win the game. However, the optimal policy of question selection is hard to be derived due to the complexity and volatility of the game environment. In this paper, we propose a novel policy-based Reinforcement Learning (RL) method, which enables the questioner agent to learn the optimal policy of question selection through continuous interactions with users. To facilitate training, we also propose to use a reward network to estimate the more informative reward. Compared to previous methods, our RL method is robust to noisy answers and does not rely on the Knowledge Base of objects. Experimental results show that our RL method clearly outperforms an entropy-based engineering system and has competitive performance in a noisy-free simulation environment.

* To appear in EMNLP 2018
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Winograd Schema Challenge (WSC) was proposed as an AI-hard problem in testing computers' intelligence on common sense representation and reasoning. This paper presents the new state-of-theart on WSC, achieving an accuracy of 71.1%. We demonstrate that the leading performance benefits from jointly modelling sentence structures, utilizing knowledge learned from cutting-edge pretraining models, and performing fine-tuning. We conduct detailed analyses, showing that fine-tuning is critical for achieving the performance, but it helps more on the simpler associative problems. Modelling sentence dependency structures, however, consistently helps on the harder non-associative subset of WSC. Analysis also shows that larger fine-tuning datasets yield better performances, suggesting the potential benefit of future work on annotating more Winograd schema sentences.

* 7 pages
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Neural architecture search (NAS) recently attracts much research attention because of its ability to identify better architectures than handcrafted ones. However, many NAS methods, which optimize the search process in a discrete search space, need many GPU days for convergence. Recently, DARTS, which constructs a differentiable search space and then optimizes it by gradient descent, can obtain high-performance architecture and reduces the search time to several days. However, DARTS is still slow as it updates an ensemble of all operations and keeps only one after convergence. Besides, DARTS can converge to inferior architectures due to the strong correlation among operations. In this paper, we propose a new differentiable Neural Architecture Search method based on Proximal gradient descent (denoted as NASP). Different from DARTS, NASP reformulates the search process as an optimization problem with a constraint that only one operation is allowed to be updated during forward and backward propagation. Since the constraint is hard to deal with, we propose a new algorithm inspired by proximal iterations to solve it. Experiments on various tasks demonstrate that NASP can obtain high-performance architectures with 10 times of speedup on the computational time than DARTS.

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To deal with changing environments, a new performance measure---adaptive regret, defined as the maximum static regret over any interval, is proposed in online learning. Under the setting of online convex optimization, several algorithms have been successfully developed to minimize the adaptive regret. However, existing algorithms lack universality in the sense that they can only handle one type of convex functions and need apriori knowledge of parameters. By contrast, there exist universal algorithms, such as MetaGrad, that attain optimal static regret for multiple types of convex functions simultaneously. Along this line of research, this paper presents the first universal algorithm for minimizing the adaptive regret of convex functions. Specifically, we borrow the idea of maintaining multiple learning rates in MetaGrad to handle the uncertainty of functions, and utilize the technique of sleeping experts to capture changing environments. In this way, our algorithm automatically adapts to the property of functions (convex, exponentially concave, or strongly convex), as well as the nature of environments (stationary or changing). As a by product, it also allows the type of functions to switch between rounds.

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