Learning Monocular Reactive UAV Control in Cluttered Natural Environments

Stephane Ross, Narek Melik-Barkhudarov, Kumar Shaurya Shankar, Andreas Wendel, Debadeepta Dey, J. Andrew (Drew) Bagnell, and Martial Hebert
December, 2012.


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Abstract
Autonomous navigation for large Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) is fairly straight-forward, as expensive sensors and monitoring devices can be employed. In contrast, obstacle avoidance remains a challenging task for Micro Aerial Vehicles (MAVs) which operate at low altitude in cluttered environments. Unlike large vehicles, MAVs can only carry very light sensors, such as cameras, making autonomous navigation through obstacles much more challenging. In this paper, we describe a system that navigates a small quadrotor helicopter autonomously at low altitude through natural forest environments. Using only a single cheap camera to perceive the environment, we are able to maintain a constant velocity of up to 1.5m/s. Given a small set of human pilot demonstrations, we use recent state-of-the-art imitation learning techniques to train a controller that can avoid trees by adapting the MAVs heading. We demonstrate the performance of our system in a more controlled environment indoors, and in real natural forest environments outdoors.

Keywords
Imitation Learning, MAV, Control, Vision

Notes
Sponsor: ONR through "Provably-Stable Vision-Based Control of High-Speed Flight through Forests and Urban Environments" MURI
Associated Center(s) / Consortia: Vision and Autonomous Systems Center
Number of pages: 8

Text Reference
Stephane Ross, Narek Melik-Barkhudarov, Kumar Shaurya Shankar, Andreas Wendel, Debadeepta Dey, J. Andrew (Drew) Bagnell, and Martial Hebert, "Learning Monocular Reactive UAV Control in Cluttered Natural Environments ," December, 2012.

BibTeX Reference
@inproceedings{Ross_2012_7329,
   author = "Stephane Ross and Narek Melik-Barkhudarov and Kumar Shaurya Shankar and Andreas Wendel and Debadeepta Dey and J. Andrew (Drew) Bagnell and Martial Hebert",
   title = "Learning Monocular Reactive UAV Control in Cluttered Natural Environments ",
   booktitle = "",
   publisher = "ArXiv",
   month = "December",
   year = "2012",
   number = " 1211.1690",
}