Learning to Drive Among Obstacles

This paper reports on an outdoor mobile robot that learns to avoid collisions by observing a human driver operate a vehicle equipped with sensors that continuously produce a map of the local environment. We have implemented steering control that models human behavior in trying to avoid obstacles while trying to follow a desired path. Here we present the formulation for this control system and its independent parameters, and then show how these parameters can be automatically estimated by observation of a human driver. We present results from experiments with a vehicle (both real and simulated) that avoids obstacles while following a prescribed path at speeds up to 4 m/sec. We compare the proposed method with another method based on principal component analysis, a commonly used learning technique. We find that the proposed method generalizes well and is capable of learning from a small number of examples