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In this paper, we study the safe navigation of a mobile robot through crowds of dynamic agents with uncertain trajectories. Existing algorithms suffer from the ``freezing robot'' problem: once the environment surpasses a certain level of complexity, the planner decides that all forward paths are unsafe, and the robot freezes in place (or performs unnecessary maneuvers) to avoid collisions. Since a feasible path typically exists, this behavior is suboptimal. Existing approaches have focused on reducing the predictive uncertainty for individual agents by employing more informed models or heuristically limiting the predictive covariance to prevent this overcautious behavior. In this work, we demonstrate that both the individual prediction and the predictive uncertainty have little to do with the frozen robot problem. Our key insight is that dynamic agents solve the frozen robot problem by engaging in ``joint collision avoidance'': They cooperatively make room to create feasible trajectories. We develop IGP, a nonparametric statisti- cal model based on dependent output Gaussian processes that can estimate crowd interaction from data. Our model naturally captures the non-Markov nature of agent trajectories, as well as their goal-driven navigation. We then show how planning in this model can be efficiently implemented using particle based inference. Lastly, we evaluate our model on a dataset of pedestrians entering and leaving a building, first comparing the model with actual pedestrians, and find that the algorithm either outperforms human pedestrians or performs very simi- larly to the pedestrians. We also present an experiment where a covariance reduction method results in highly overcautious behavior, while our model performs desirably.
Unfreezing the Robot: Navigation in Dense, Interacting Crowds P. Trautman, A. KrauseIn IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 2010
Bibtex Entry:
	Author = {Peter Trautman and Andreas Krause},
	Booktitle = {IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS)},
	Title = {Unfreezing the Robot: Navigation in Dense, Interacting Crowds},
	Year = {2010}}