Teaching UAVs to Race With Observational Imitation Learning

G. Li, M. Mueller, V. Casser, N. Smith, D. L. Michels, and B. Ghanem
Cornell University Library, (2018)

Teaching UAVs to Race With Observational Imitation Learning

Keywords

Tackled the problem of autonomous navigation by imitating a teacher and learning an end-to-end policy

Abstract

Recent work has tackled the problem of autonomous navigation by imitating a teacher and learning an end-to-end policy, which directly predicts controls from raw images. However, these approaches tend to be sensitive to mistakes by the teacher and do not scale well to other environments or vehicles. To this end, we propose a modular network architecture that decouples perception from control, and is trained using Observational Imitation Learning (OIL), a novel imitation learning variant that supports online training and automatic selection of optimal behavior from observing multiple teachers. We apply our proposed methodology to the challenging problem of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) racing. We develop a simulator that enables the generation of large amounts of synthetic training data (both UAV captured images and its controls) and also allows for online learning and evaluation. We train a perception network to predict waypoints from raw image data and a control network to predict UAV controls from these waypoints using OIL. Our modular network is able to autonomously fly a UAV through challenging race tracks at high speeds. Extensive experiments demonstrate that our trained network outperforms its teachers, end-to-end baselines, and even human pilots in simulation

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