Simulation-Based Counterfactual Causal Discovery on Real World Driver Behaviour

6 Jun 2023  ·  Rhys Howard, Lars Kunze ·

Being able to reason about how one's behaviour can affect the behaviour of others is a core skill required of intelligent driving agents. Despite this, the state of the art struggles to meet the need of agents to discover causal links between themselves and others. Observational approaches struggle because of the non-stationarity of causal links in dynamic environments, and the sparsity of causal interactions while requiring the approaches to work in an online fashion. Meanwhile interventional approaches are impractical as a vehicle cannot experiment with its actions on a public road. To counter the issue of non-stationarity we reformulate the problem in terms of extracted events, while the previously mentioned restriction upon interventions can be overcome with the use of counterfactual simulation. We present three variants of the proposed counterfactual causal discovery method and evaluate these against state of the art observational temporal causal discovery methods across 3396 causal scenes extracted from a real world driving dataset. We find that the proposed method significantly outperforms the state of the art on the proposed task quantitatively and can offer additional insights by comparing the outcome of an alternate series of decisions in a way that observational and interventional approaches cannot.

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