Occlusion-Aware Crowd Navigation Using People as Sensors

Ye Ji Mun, Masha Itkina, Shuijing Liu, Katherine Driggs-Campbell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Autonomous navigation in crowded spaces poses a challenge for mobile robots due to the highly dynamic, partially observable environment. Occlusions are highly prevalent in such settings due to a limited sensor field of view and obstructing human agents. Previous work has shown that observed interactive behaviors of human agents can be used to estimate potential obstacles despite occlusions. We propose integrating such social inference techniques into the planning pipeline. We use a variational autoencoder with a specially designed loss function to learn representations that are meaningful for occlusion inference. This work adopts a deep reinforcement learning approach to incorporate the learned representation into occlusion-aware planning. In simulation, our occlusion-aware policy achieves comparable collision avoidance performance to fully observable navigation by estimating agents in occluded spaces. We demonstrate successful policy transfer from simulation to the real-world Turtlebot 2i. To the best of our knowledge, this work is the first to use social occlusion inference for crowd navigation. Our implementation is available at https://github.com/yejimun/PaS_CrowdNav.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - ICRA 2023
Subtitle of host publicationIEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9798350323658
StatePublished - 2023
Event2023 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, ICRA 2023 - London, United Kingdom
Duration: May 29 2023Jun 2 2023

Publication series

NameProceedings - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation
ISSN (Print)1050-4729


Conference2023 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, ICRA 2023
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence


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