Toward Exploring End-to-End Learning Algorithms for Autonomous Aerial Machines

Srivatsan Krishnan
Behzad Boroujerdian
Vijay Janapa Reddi
Algorithms and Architectures for Learning in-the-Loop Systems in Autonomous Flight @ ICRA(2019)


We develop AirLearning, a tool suite for endto-end closed-loop UAV analysis, equipped with a customized yet randomized environment generator in order to expose the UAV with a diverse set of challenges. We take Deep Q networks (DQN) as an example deep reinforcement learning algorithm and use curriculum learning to train a point to point obstacle avoidance policy. While we determine the best policy based on the success rate, we evaluate it under strict resource constraints on an embedded platform such as RasPi 3. Using hardware in the loop methodology, we quantify the policy’s performance with quality of flight metrics such as energy consumed, endurance and the average length of the trajectory. We find that the trajectories produced on the embedded platform are very different from those predicted on the desktop, resulting in up to 26.43% longer trajectories. Quality of flight metrics with hardware in the loop characterizes those differences in simulation, thereby exposing how the choice of onboard compute contributes to shortening or widening of ‘Sim2Real’ gap.