Dynamically Feasible Deep Reinforcement Learning Policy for Robot Navigation in Dense Mobile Crowds

arXiv (Cornell University)(2020)

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We present a novel Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) based policy for mobile robot navigation in dynamic environments that computes dynamically feasible and spatially aware robot velocities. Our method addresses two primary issues associated with the Dynamic Window Approach (DWA) and DRL-based navigation policies and solves them by using the benefits of one method to fix the issues of the other. The issues are: 1. DWA not utilizing the time evolution of the environment while choosing velocities from the dynamically feasible velocity set leading to sub-optimal dynamic collision avoidance behaviors, and 2. DRL-based navigation policies computing velocities that often violate the dynamics constraints such as the non-holonomic and acceleration constraints of the robot. Our DRL-based method generates velocities that are dynamically feasible while accounting for the motion of the obstacles in the environment. This is done by embedding the changes in the environment's state in a novel observation space and a reward function formulation that reinforces spatially aware obstacle avoidance maneuvers. We evaluate our method in realistic 3-D simulation and on a real differential drive robot in challenging indoor scenarios with crowds of varying densities. We make comparisons with traditional and current state-of-the-art collision avoidance methods and observe significant improvements in terms of collision rate, number of dynamics constraint violations and smoothness. We also conduct ablation studies to highlight the advantages and explain the rationale behind our observation space construction, reward structure and network architecture.
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Key words
dense mobile crowds,robot navigation,deep
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