Uncertainty-aware Perception Models for Off-road Autonomous Unmanned Ground Vehicles

by   Zhaoyuan Yang, et al.

Off-road autonomous unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) are being developed for military and commercial use to deliver crucial supplies in remote locations, help with mapping and surveillance, and to assist war-fighters in contested environments. Due to complexity of the off-road environments and variability in terrain, lighting conditions, diurnal and seasonal changes, the models used to perceive the environment must handle a lot of input variability. Current datasets used to train perception models for off-road autonomous navigation lack of diversity in seasons, locations, semantic classes, as well as time of day. We test the hypothesis that model trained on a single dataset may not generalize to other off-road navigation datasets and new locations due to the input distribution drift. Additionally, we investigate how to combine multiple datasets to train a semantic segmentation-based environment perception model and we show that training the model to capture uncertainty could improve the model performance by a significant margin. We extend the Masksembles approach for uncertainty quantification to the semantic segmentation task and compare it with Monte Carlo Dropout and standard baselines. Finally, we test the approach against data collected from a UGV platform in a new testing environment. We show that the developed perception model with uncertainty quantification can be feasibly deployed on an UGV to support online perception and navigation tasks.


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