Active uncertainty reduction for safe and efficient interaction planning: A shielding-aware dual control approach

Haimin Hu, David Isele, Sangjae Bae, Jaime F. Fisac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The ability to accurately predict others’ behavior is central to the safety and efficiency of robotic systems in interactive settings, such as human–robot interaction and multi-robot teaming tasks. Unfortunately, robots often lack access to key information on which these predictions may hinge, such as other agents’ goals, attention, and willingness to cooperate. Dual control theory addresses this challenge by treating unknown parameters of a predictive model as stochastic hidden states and inferring their values at runtime using information gathered during system operation. While able to optimally and automatically trade off exploration and exploitation, dual control is computationally intractable for general interactive motion planning, mainly due to the fundamental coupling between the robot’s trajectory plan and its prediction of other agents’ intent. In this paper, we present a novel algorithmic approach to enable active uncertainty reduction for interactive motion planning based on the implicit dual control paradigm. Our approach relies on sampling-based approximation of stochastic dynamic programming, leading to a model predictive control problem that can be readily solved by real-time gradient-based optimization methods. The resulting policy is shown to preserve the dual control effect for a broad class of predictive models with both continuous and categorical uncertainty. To ensure the safe operation of the interacting agents, we use a runtime safety filter (also referred to as a “shielding” scheme), which overrides the robot’s dual control policy with a safety fallback strategy when a safety-critical event is imminent. We then augment the dual control framework with an improved variant of the recently proposed shielding-aware robust planning scheme, which proactively balances the nominal planning performance with the risk of high-cost emergency maneuvers triggered by low-probability agent behaviors. We demonstrate the efficacy of our approach with both simulated driving studies and hardware experiments using 1/10 scale autonomous vehicles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Robotics Research
StateAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Applied Mathematics


  • Planning under uncertainty
  • dual control theory
  • human–robot interaction
  • safe learning
  • stochastic model predictive control


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