Neuro-evolution search methodologies for collective self-driving vehicles

Master Thesis


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Recently there has been an increasing amount of research into autonomous vehicles for real-world driving. Much progress has been made in the past decade with many automotive manufacturers demonstrating real-world prototypes. Current predictions indicate that roads designed exclusively for autonomous vehicles will be constructed and thus this thesis explores the use of methods to automatically produce controllers for autonomous vehicles that must navigate with each other on these roads. Neuro-Evolution, a method that combines evolutionary algorithms with neural networks, has shown to be effective in reinforcement-learning, multi-agent tasks such as maze navigation, biped locomotion, autonomous racing vehicles and fin-less rocket control. Hence, a neuro-evolution method is selected and investigated for the controller evolution of collective autonomous vehicles in homogeneous teams. The impact of objective and non-objective search (and a combination of both, a hybrid method) for controller evolution is comparatively evaluated for robustness on a range of driving tasks and collection sizes. Results indicate that the objective search was able to generalise the best on unseen task environments compared to all other methods and the hybrid approach was able to yield desired task performance on evolution far earlier than both approaches but was unable to generalise as effectively over new environments.