[SPF24] Shili Sheng, David Parker and Lu Feng. Safe POMDP Online Planning via Shielding. In Proc. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA'24). To appear. May 2024. [pdf] [bib] [Presents techniques to augment POMDP online planning with shielding to ensure safety, implemented as an extension of PRISM.]
Downloads:  pdf pdf (321 KB)  bib bib
Links: [Google] [Google Scholar]
Abstract. Partially observable Markov decision processes (POMDPs) have been widely used in many robotic applications for sequential decision-making under uncertainty. POMDP online planning algorithms such as Partially Observable Monte-Carlo Planning (POMCP) can solve very large POMDPs with the goal of maximizing the expected return. But the resulting policies cannot provide safety guarantees which are imperative for real-world safety-critical tasks (e.g., autonomous driving). In this work, we consider safety requirements represented as almost-sure reach-avoid specifications (i.e., the probability to reach a set of goal states is one and the probability to reach a set of unsafe states is zero). We compute shields that restrict unsafe actions which would violate the almost-sure reach-avoid specifications. We then integrate these shields into the POMCP algorithm for safe POMDP online planning. We propose four distinct shielding methods, differing in how the shields are computed and integrated, including factored variants designed to improve scalability. Experimental results on a set of benchmark domains demonstrate that the proposed shielding methods successfully guarantee safety (unlike the baseline POMCP without shielding) on large POMDPs, with negligible impact on the runtime for online planning.