AADS: Augmented autonomous driving simulation using data-driven algorithms

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Science Robotics  27 Mar 2019:
Vol. 4, Issue 28, eaaw0863
DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.aaw0863


Simulation systems have become essential to the development and validation of autonomous driving (AD) technologies. The prevailing state-of-the-art approach for simulation uses game engines or high-fidelity computer graphics (CG) models to create driving scenarios. However, creating CG models and vehicle movements (the assets for simulation) remain manual tasks that can be costly and time consuming. In addition, CG images still lack the richness and authenticity of real-world images, and using CG images for training leads to degraded performance. Here, we present our augmented autonomous driving simulation (AADS). Our formulation augmented real-world pictures with a simulated traffic flow to create photorealistic simulation images and renderings. More specifically, we used LiDAR and cameras to scan street scenes. From the acquired trajectory data, we generated plausible traffic flows for cars and pedestrians and composed them into the background. The composite images could be resynthesized with different viewpoints and sensor models (camera or LiDAR). The resulting images are photorealistic, fully annotated, and ready for training and testing of AD systems from perception to planning. We explain our system design and validate our algorithms with a number of AD tasks from detection to segmentation and predictions. Compared with traditional approaches, our method offers scalability and realism. Scalability is particularly important for AD simulations, and we believe that real-world complexity and diversity cannot be realistically captured in a virtual environment. Our augmented approach combines the flexibility of a virtual environment (e.g., vehicle movements) with the richness of the real world to allow effective simulation.

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