Realtime Collision Avoidance for Mobile Robots in Dense Crowds using Implicit Multi-sensor Fusion and Deep Reinforcement Learning


We present a novel high fidelity 3-D simulator that significantly reduces the sim-to-real gap for collision avoidance in dense crowds using Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL). Our simulator models realistic crowd and pedestrian behaviors, along with friction, sensor noise and delays in the simulated robot model. We also describe a technique to incrementally control the randomness and complexity of training scenarios to achieve better convergence and generalization capabilities. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our simulator by training a policy that fuses data from multiple perception sensors such as a 2-D lidar and a depth camera to detect pedestrians and computes smooth, collision-free velocities. Our novel reward function and multi-sensor formulation results in smooth and unobtrusive navigation. We have evaluated the learned policy on two differential drive robots and evaluate its performance in new dense crowd scenarios, narrow corridors, T and L-junctions, etc. We observe that our algorithm outperforms prior dynamic navigation techniques in terms of metrics such as success rate, trajectory length, mean time to goal, and smoothness.