Keep off the Grass: Permissible Driving Routes from Radar with Weak Audio Supervision

11 May 2020  ·  David Williams, Daniele De Martini, Matthew Gadd, Letizia Marchegiani, Paul Newman ·

Reliable outdoor deployment of mobile robots requires the robust identification of permissible driving routes in a given environment. The performance of LiDAR and vision-based perception systems deteriorates significantly if certain environmental factors are present e.g. rain, fog, darkness. Perception systems based on FMCW scanning radar maintain full performance regardless of environmental conditions and with a longer range than alternative sensors. Learning to segment a radar scan based on driveability in a fully supervised manner is not feasible as labelling each radar scan on a bin-by-bin basis is both difficult and time-consuming to do by hand. We therefore weakly supervise the training of the radar-based classifier through an audio-based classifier that is able to predict the terrain type underneath the robot. By combining odometry, GPS and the terrain labels from the audio classifier, we are able to construct a terrain labelled trajectory of the robot in the environment which is then used to label the radar scans. Using a curriculum learning procedure, we then train a radar segmentation network to generalise beyond the initial labelling and to detect all permissible driving routes in the environment.

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