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Infusing Reachability-Based Safety into Planning and Control for Multi-agent Interactions

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Document pages: 8 pages

Abstract: Within a robot autonomy stack, the planner and controller are typicallydesigned separately, and serve different purposes. As such, there is often adiffusion of responsibilities when it comes to ensuring safety for the robot.We propose that a planner and controller should share the same interpretationof safety but apply this knowledge in a different yet complementary way. Toachieve this, we use Hamilton-Jacobi (HJ) reachability theory at the planninglevel to provide the robot planner with the foresight to avoid entering regionswith possible inevitable collision. However, this alone does not guaranteesafety. In conjunction with this HJ reachability-infused planner, we propose aminimally-interventional multi-agent safety-preserving controller also derivedvia HJ-reachability theory. The safety controller maintains safety for therobot without unduly impacting planner performance. We demonstrate the benefitsof our proposed approach in a multi-agent highway scenario where a robot car isrewarded to navigate through traffic as fast as possible, and we show that ourapproach provides strong safety assurances yet achieves the highest performancecompared to other safety controllers.

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