Risk-Aware Planning by Extracting Uncertainty from Deep Learning-Based Perception

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Virginia Tech

The integration of deep learning models and classical techniques in robotics is constantly creating solutions to problems once thought out of reach. The issues arising in most models that work involve the gap between experimentation and reality, with a need for strategies that assess the risk involved with different models when applied in real-world and safety-critical situations. This work proposes the use of Bayesian approximations of uncertainty from deep learning in a robot planner, showing that this produces more cautious actions in safety-critical scenarios. The case study investigated is motivated by a setup where an aerial robot acts as a "scout'' for a ground robot when the below area is unknown or dangerous, with applications in space exploration, military, or search-and-rescue. Images taken from the aerial view are used to provide a less obstructed map to guide the navigation of the robot on the ground. Experiments are conducted using a deep learning semantic image segmentation, followed by a path planner based on the resulting cost map, to provide an empirical analysis of the proposed method. The method is analyzed to assess the impact of variations in the uncertainty extraction, as well as the absence of an uncertainty metric, on the overall system with the use of a defined factor which measures surprise to the planner. The analysis is performed on multiple datasets, showing a similar trend of lower surprise when uncertainty information is incorporated in the planning, given threshold values of the hyperparameters in the uncertainty extraction have been met.

Risk-Aware Planning, Uncertainty Approximation, Deep Learning