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Discussion Ezequiel #2

Ezequiel Debada
August 16, 2016

How do you see the future of autonomous transportation?

The use of neural networks

Differences between roundabouts and crossroads intersections? Roundabouts are more close
to the problem of coordinating a set of crossroads than to the problem of coordinating one crossroad.
Why to separate then between coordination and navigation? Modularity? it is natural.
Whatever set of relative priorities you want to follow... the way of trying to follow them is always
the same (depending on how many parameters you take into account)
The use of centralized approaches?
Practical considerations
Where do I want to contribute?
Main flaw of navigation functions?

Navigation in public roads?

Why you separate the problem of priority based navigation

and coordination?

From a realistic point of view First, I think it is the easiest way of making the transportation community
understand our solutions. In general, I have the feeling they are not really concerned about control
theory and problem so that the fact of hiding things that could be explicitly included in the algorithms
is benefitial for us. This remains me the main advantage of MPC, that for me is the possibility of
imposing explicitly constraints within the control loop as well as using meaningful cost functions.
Following that line of reasoning, it makes sense for me the fact that priorities are defined explicitely
at some part of the algorithms. Following the train of thoughts it comes to mi mind the example of

navigation functions... I think that it would be harder explaining to someone from the transportation
community that if he wants to change the maximum acceleration constraints, he should calculate first
an intermediate parameter and then to plug it into an abstract equation. Something that toes not
happen in the case of an MPC.
Moreover, separating both faces od the algorithm, you provide to the system some kind of modularity. You can change the decision making process through which you get priorities but keeping the
low control layer.
On top of that, it is quite evident that transportation community in general is addressing the
problem through other discrete event-driven algorithm such as queuing theory, scheduling, polling
systems etc. In this sense, I think that it would be still beneficial proposing algorithms where priorities
are considered inputs, as they are compatible with that other approach.
Last but not least, I really think that the scenario we will have in the future will involve neural
networks getting sensor information and deciding priorities that are afterwards followed by a low level
controller. Those neural networks could be trained collecting quality data from centralized algorithms
tested on simulation. In the end, traffic is not a really dynamic problem... from the optimality
standpoint two situations with exactly the same characteristics should have the same outcome.
From a technical point of view I am having certain problems with the terms coordination and
navigation. When does navigation start/finish? Start thinking about an intersection. At a crossroad
intersection, once you have pass through the critical point everything is done. So obviously if you
manage to pass optimally you could assume you are optimizing something. Nonetheless in the case of
a roundabout, efficiently avoiding collisions at the merging point does not mean you are optimizing
anything. Actually if you want to optimize something you need to include some information from
the intersection itself. In this sense a roundabouts is closer to the problem of coordinating a set of
crossroads than a single one.
At this point we could think what is the difference between including collision avoidance properties within an MPC or using priority-based MPC. Including collision avoidance constraint, there is
no difference between doing within a roundabout or a T-join. However we well know that roundabouts are more complex... However in the other way, you could have a state-dependent priority rule
offline-designed that optimize whatever and takes into account typical behavior of people within the
roundabout... But still when you distribute that priority rule you might have problems.
For sure it would be possible to introduce within the general MPC some constraints to account for
the roundabout state but we are making the problem unnecessarily complicated.
This is why I would say that it is more possible to make a successful contribution if we address the
problem of applying whatever combination of priorities are given and try to follow them as hard as we
can up to some extend.