After struggling to make a neural net that would predict steering commands reliably for an autonomous toy RC car, only based on the current camera view (no history), I approached the problem systematically in a robot simulator, which allowed for faster experimentation, finally leading to success.
With only two simple training tracks, one with a 90° left curve and the other one with a 90° right curve, I was able to teach reliable driving behavior. The neural net generalizes better than expected, such that the self-driving car stays on the “road”, even for tracks differing significantly from the training data.
Given more varied examples of successful steering, the driving behavior could become a lot smoother than the video shows. But interestingly, the convolutional neural network (CNN) seems to interpolate nicely between the provided training examples, and is able to handle unknown degrees of road bends.
It even manages to drive through road crossings (see after the break), if a little awkwardly, since crossings “look confusing” and were never trained. When positioned outside of the track facing it at a slight angle, the car also manages to steer in the “hinted” direction and aligns properly with the track!Continue reading