Identify, Estimate and Bound the Uncertainty of Reinforcement Learning for Autonomous Driving

Weitao Zhou, Zhong Cao, Nanshan Deng, Kun Jiang, Diange Yang
Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence (cs.AI), Machine Learning (cs.LG), Robotics (cs.RO)
2023-05-11 16:00:00
Deep reinforcement learning (DRL) has emerged as a promising approach for developing more intelligent autonomous vehicles (AVs). A typical DRL application on AVs is to train a neural network-based driving policy. However, the black-box nature of neural networks can result in unpredictable decision failures, making such AVs unreliable. To this end, this work proposes a method to identify and protect unreliable decisions of a DRL driving policy. The basic idea is to estimate and constrain the policy's performance uncertainty, which quantifies potential performance drop due to insufficient training data or network fitting errors. By constraining the uncertainty, the DRL model's performance is always greater than that of a baseline policy. The uncertainty caused by insufficient data is estimated by the bootstrapped method. Then, the uncertainty caused by the network fitting error is estimated using an ensemble network. Finally, a baseline policy is added as the performance lower bound to avoid potential decision failures. The overall framework is called uncertainty-bound reinforcement learning (UBRL). The proposed UBRL is evaluated on DRL policies with different amounts of training data, taking an unprotected left-turn driving case as an example. The result shows that the UBRL method can identify potentially unreliable decisions of DRL policy. The UBRL guarantees to outperform baseline policy even when the DRL policy is not well-trained and has high uncertainty. Meanwhile, the performance of UBRL improves with more training data. Such a method is valuable for the DRL application on real-road driving and provides a metric to evaluate a DRL policy.
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