KING: Generating Safety-Critical Driving Scenarios for Robust Imitation via Kinematics Gradients

Niklas Hanselmann, Katrin Renz, Kashyap Chitta, Apratim Bhattacharyya, Andreas Geiger ;


"Simulators offer the possibility of safe, low-cost development of self-driving systems. However, current driving simulators exhibit naïve behavior models for background traffic. Hand-tuned scenarios are typically added during simulation to induce safety-critical situations. An alternative approach is to adversarially perturb the background traffic trajectories. In this paper, we study this approach to safety-critical driving scenario generation using the CARLA simulator. We use a kinematic bicycle model as a proxy to the simulator’s true dynamics and observe that gradients through this proxy model are sufficient for optimizing the background traffic trajectories. Based on this finding, we propose KING, which generates safety-critical driving scenarios with a 20% higher success rate than black-box optimization. By solving the scenarios generated by KING using a privileged rule-based expert algorithm, we obtain training data for an imitation learning policy. After fine-tuning on this new data, we show that the policy becomes better at avoiding collisions. Importantly, our generated data leads to reduced collisions on both held-out scenarios generated via KING as well as traditional hand-crafted scenarios, demonstrating improved robustness."

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