Whose Track Is It Anyway? Improving Robustness to Tracking Errors With Affinity-Based Trajectory Prediction

Multi-agent trajectory prediction is critical for planning and decision-making in human-interactive autonomous systems, such as self-driving cars. However, most prediction models are developed separately from their upstream perception (detection and tracking) modules, assuming ground truth past trajectories as inputs. As a result, their performance degrades significantly when using real-world noisy tracking results as inputs. This is typically caused by the propagation of errors from tracking to prediction, such as noisy tracks, fragments, and identity switches. To alleviate this propagation of errors, we propose a new prediction paradigm that uses detections and their affinity matrices across frames as inputs, removing the need for error-prone data association during tracking. Since affinity matrices contain "soft" information about the similarity and identity of detections across frames, making predictions directly from affinity matrices retains strictly more information than making predictions from the tracklets generated by data association. Experiments on large-scale, real-world autonomous driving datasets show that our affinity-based prediction scheme reduces overall prediction errors by up to 57.9%, in comparison to standard prediction pipelines that use tracklets as inputs, with even more significant error reduction (up to 88.6%) if restricting the evaluation to challenging scenarios with tracking errors. Our project website is at https://www.xinshuoweng.com/projects/Affinipred

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