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Safe Driving Of Autonomous Vehicles Through Improved Deep Reinforcement Learning

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posted on 21.12.2021, 16:26 by Abhishek Gupta
In this thesis, we propose an environment perception framework for autonomous driving using deep reinforcement learning (DRL) that exhibits learning in autonomous vehicles under complex interactions with the environment, without being explicitly trained on driving datasets. Unlike existing techniques, our proposed technique takes the learning loss into account under deterministic as well as stochastic policy gradient. We apply DRL to object detection and safe navigation while enhancing a self-driving vehicle’s ability to discern meaningful information from surrounding data. For efficient environmental perception and object detection, various Q-learning based methods have been proposed in the literature. Unlike other works, this thesis proposes a collaborative deterministic as well as stochastic policy gradient based on DRL. Our technique is a combination of variational autoencoder (VAE), deep deterministic policy gradient (DDPG), and soft actor-critic (SAC) that adequately trains a self-driving vehicle. In this work, we focus on uninterrupted and reasonably safe autonomous driving without colliding with an obstacle or steering off the track. We propose a collaborative framework that utilizes best features of VAE, DDPG, and SAC and models autonomous driving as partly stochastic and partly deterministic policy gradient problem in continuous action space, and continuous state space. To ensure that the vehicle traverses the road over a considerable period of time, we employ a reward-penalty based system where a higher negative penalty is associated with an unfavourable action and a comparatively lower positive reward is awarded for favourable actions. We also examine the variations in policy loss, value loss, reward function, and cumulative reward for ‘VAE+DDPG’ and ‘VAE+SAC’ over the learning process.





Master of Applied Science


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type


Thesis Advisor

Alagan Anpalagan Ling Guan