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Highly Parallelized Data-driven MPC for Minimal Intervention Shared Control

by   Alexander Broad, et al.
Northwestern University

We present a shared control paradigm that improves a user's ability to operate complex, dynamic systems in potentially dangerous environments without a priori knowledge of the user's objective. In this paradigm, the role of the autonomous partner is to improve the general safety of the system without constraining the user's ability to achieve unspecified behaviors. Our approach relies on a data-driven, model-based representation of the joint human-machine system to evaluate, in parallel, a significant number of potential inputs that the user may wish to provide. These samples are used to (1) predict the safety of the system over a receding horizon, and (2) minimize the influence of the autonomous partner. The resulting shared control algorithm maximizes the authority allocated to the human partner to improve their sense of agency, while improving safety. We evaluate the efficacy of our shared control algorithm with a human subjects study (n=20) conducted in two simulated environments: a balance bot and a race car. During the experiment, users are free to operate each system however they would like (i.e., there is no specified task) and are only asked to try to avoid unsafe regions of the state space. Using modern computational resources (i.e., GPUs) our approach is able to consider more than 10,000 potential trajectories at each time step in a control loop running at 100Hz for the balance bot and 60Hz for the race car. The results of the study show that our shared control paradigm improves system safety without knowledge of the user's goal, while maintaining high-levels of user satisfaction and low-levels of frustration. Our code is available online at


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