Crowded Environment Navigation with NEAT: Impact of Perception Resolution on Controller Optimization




Stefano Seriani, Luca Marcini, Matteo Caruso, Paolo Gallina, Eric Medvet


Journal of Intelligent & Robotic Systems (JINT)
(rank Q2 in Artificial Intelligence)



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Abstract #

Crowd navigation with autonomous systems is a topic which has seen a rapid increase in interest recently. While it appears natural to humans, being able to reach a target can prove difficult or impossible to a mobile robot because of the safety issues related to collisions with people. In this work we propose an approach to control a robot in a crowded environment; the method employs an Artificial Neural Network (ANN) that is trained with the NeuroEvolution of Augmented Topologies (NEAT) method. Models for the kinematics, perception, and cognition of the robot are presented. In particular, perception is based on a raycasting model which is tailored on the ANN. An in-depth analysis of a number of parameters of the environment and the robot is performed and a comparative analysis is presented; finally, results of the performance of the controller trained with NEAT are compared to those of a human driver who takes over the controller itself. Results show that the intelligent controller is able to perform on par with the human, within the simulated environment.