Autoware.Auto
Autonomous Valet Parking Demonstration
Autonomous valet parking

Overview

The Autonomous Valet Parking (AVP) demonstration uses Autoware.Auto to provide a valet parking service. It was realized in 2020 by Autoware members, described in more detail in this blog post.

The goal is to direct the car to autonomously park in a parking lot and to return autonomously to a pick-up/drop-off area simply by using a smartphone.

The AVP demonstration uses Autoware.Auto to provide the following functions:

  1. Automatically drive a car from a pre-defined drop-off zone (e.g. the entrance to a car park) to a parking spot indicated by an external system.
  2. Park a car in a parking spot, starting in a lane near that parking spot.
  3. Drive out of a parking spot.
  4. Drive to a pre-defined pick-up zone (e.g. the exit from a car park).
  5. Automatically stop for obstacles while achieving the above.

The easiest way to repeat the demonstration is to run it in Simulation. Given appropriate hardware, it can of course be repeated in real life as well as detailed in Physical demonstration.

Prerequisites

To run this demo, the following inputs are needed:

  • A point-cloud map of a car park, for localization.
  • An HDMap (vector map) of a car park, for navigation.

If LGSVL simulator is set up as explained, these two components should be available out of the box in simulation under /opt/AutowareAuto/share/autoware_demos/data.

Simulation

To run the LGSVL simulator, an NVIDIA graphics card is required. Additional information about requirements can be found here.

These instructions were tested successfully on a number of machines, these are the specs of one such machine:

  • Intel(R) Core(TM) i9-9900KF CPU @ 3.60GHz (16 virtual cores) with 64GB RAM
  • NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 with 8 GB memory
Warning
If the machine is overloaded by running both the simulation and the autonomous-driving stack, expect a performance degradation. See Lack of computational resources. It is recommended to run the Simulator and RViz2 one one machine and the autoware stack on a second machine.

Setup and launching

Running and controlling the simulation requires two separate terminals.

Setup

  1. Install ADE.
  2. Next open terminal 1 in ADE and follow the instructions on the LGSVL simulator page to install, configure, and run the simulator:
    $ ade enter
    ade$ /opt/lgsvl/simulator &
  3. Also in terminal 1, launch visualization:
    ade$ source /opt/AutowareAuto/setup.bash
    ade$ ros2 launch autoware_auto_launch autoware_auto_visualization.launch.py
Warning
If starting the simulation immediately by pressing the play button in the LGSVL web GUI, the Autoware.Auto stack will emit warnings and error messages upon launch until localization is initialized (see section below). To avoid that, do not start the simulation yet; i.e., do not press the Play button!

Launching

Open a new terminal 2, either in the same ADE instance or in a new ADE instance on an second machine, run the launch file for Milestone 3 as follows to use the pre-compiled packages from /opt/AutowareAuto:

$ ade enter
ade$ source /opt/AutowareAuto/setup.bash
ade$ ros2 launch autoware_demos avp_sim.launch.py

Alternatively, if the source code has been modified locally, first build, then launch:

$ ade enter
ade$ cd AutowareAuto
ade$ colcon build --packages-up-to autoware_demos
ade$ source install/setup.bash
ade$ ros2 launch autoware_demos avp_sim.launch.py

To interrupt the launched processes, hit Ctrl c. Turning the simulation off while building can save compute resources to accelerate the build.

When following the steps above, the RViz window should show what the Autoware.Auto stack sees. The system is initially not localized, and the car is tentatively placed at the origin of the map frame. Terminal 2 displays output related to starting the stack similar to:

[INFO] [robot_state_publisher-1]: process started with pid [20291]
[INFO] [lgsvl_interface_exe-2]: process started with pid [20292]
...
[rviz2-20] Parsing robot urdf xml string.

There should be no error messages; else check Troubleshooting.

By default, RViz is in the Move Camera mode, in which the mouse can control the view like this:

  • left-click and drag to rotate
  • middle-click to pan
  • right-click to zoom

Change properties of how and if entities are shown in RViz from the panel on the left of the window. Hide that panel by clicking on the little triangle pointing to the left. When that panel is hidden, the output in RViz should look like this where the car is shown as a white outline:

Initial view, not localized

Initializing the localization

In the LGSVL simulation, the vehicle is spawned at a particular location of the map that is different from the origin. The NDT localizer used in the Autoware.Auto stack currently requires an initial guess of the vehicle pose that is somewhere close to the truth. After that initial guess, NDT should follow along when the car moves.

Detailed instructions are given at Initializing the NDT localizer.

Once the initialization of NDT is completed, navigate back to the LGSVL window and press the play button in the bottom left corner of the window.

Driving to the drop-off zone

Now that NDT is initialized, run the simulation if it is not already running.

In order to reproduce the demo as in real life, manually drive the vehicle from the spawning point to the drop-off zone as shown on the image below. It may be worthwhile to spend a minute or two to drive a few laps around the map to see what is where.

Use the up and down arrow keys to accelerate or brake, respectively. The right and left arrow keys are used for steering the vehicle. Upon initialization the vehicle should be place in Drive mode. To change this to Reverse, use the PageDown key. The PageUp key can be used to put the vehicle back into Drive. For more information about the control in LGSVL, press the controller button in the bottom left corner.

In the image below, orange boxes indicate lidar objects, red points indicate lidar points that are generated as artificial input from simulation, and white dots indicate the point-cloud map used by the localization system as a reference. All of these visualization can be toggled in RViz.

Having the car in the LGSVL simulation aligned with the position in RViz as in the image below means the system is properly localized and ready for the next step.

Location of drop-off area in LGSVL simulation and RViz
Note
One can alternatively drive to the drop-off zone first, and then initialize NDT there.

Parking autonomously

In principle, the vehicle can park in any of the parking spots indicated in the map. In the physical demo, the reference parking spot was the 5th spot on the right counting from the end of the lane of the drop-off zone.

Location of drop-off area and target parking spot

From the drop-off zone, select a parking spot by clicking the 2D Goal Pose button in RViz, and click and select in the map to select a parking spot and the orientation of the car, implicitly selecting among head-in and reverse parking.

Selecting a parking spot with RViz

The stack then starts to plan the trajectory and visualizes poses along the way. The planning task is separated into two steps, the lane following and the parking itself. In the parking phase, virtual obstacles are added to guide the vehicle into the right position.

Parking planner visualized

Further maneuvers

Once parked, the vehicle can be directed to exit the parking spot and to return to the drop-off zone following the above procedure to send a new goal pose to the planner. The poses mentioned are just examples, the vehicle can alternatively be instructed to go to another pose on an arbitrary lane in the map, or one can try parking in other parking spots.

Known limitations

  • While a plan is executed, other goal poses are ignored. Either wait until the vehicle reached the target pose, or quit the stack and try again.
  • Some parking spots on the map are too tight to fit the Lexus and the parking planner may fail, resulting in the vehicle not moving anymore.
  • Targeting a parking spot on the same lanelet that the vehicle is currently on is not supported
  • The vehicle needs to be in forward gear
  • Once driven autonomously, driving manually won't work anymore because the vehicle activates the brakes to stay in previously defined target location

Controlling the vehicle through a web interface

As an alternative to selecting goal poses with a mouse in RViz, one can use a web interface that is launched with the rest of the stack.

Open http://127.0.0.1:8000/ on the host system in a web browser to send goal poses to the vehicle. This requires that

  • the vehicle be manually driven to the location on the map indicated in the image above,
  • the stack be initialized and localized in the map

If the above conditions are satisfied, click e.g. the Reverse park button in the web browser. In essence, this publishes a goal pose that the stack plans for. Monitor the pose coordinates with

ade$ source /opt/AutowareAuto/setup.bash
ade$ ros2 topic echo /planning/goal_pose
Autonomous valet parking web interface

Troubleshooting

Lack of computational resources

The computational demands of running the LGSVL simulator and the Autoware.Auto stack for the AVP demo in parallel are high and may not be met by commonly available laptops with a consumer-grade NVidia accelerator.

There are various manifestations pointing to this of lack resources:

  • the localization is not able to follow the vehicle as it moves around in simulation and gets stuck at a past location,
  • the localization jumps erratically while the vehicle does not move

Solution: Either run the simulation and the Autoware.Auto stack on separate machines (recommended), or run both on a more powerful computer with a better GPU.

When running Autoware on two separate machines, make sure the two machines are in the same subnet and UDP multicast is not blocked by firewall or router.

Localization

After starting the simulation and the stack, the console is full of errors like this:

[object_collision_estimator_node_exe-18] [WARN] [1613130016.283356960] [planning.object_collision_estimator_node]: on_bounding_box cannot transform base_link to map.
[behavior_planner_node_exe-19] [INFO] [1613130016.285522103] [planning.behavior_planner_node]: Waiting for localization result to become available
[lanelet2_global_planner_node_exe-15] [ERROR] [1613130016.285673175] [planning.lanelet2_global_planner_node]: Failed to transform Pose to map frame
[behavior_planner_node_exe-19] [INFO] [1613130016.320455277] [planning.behavior_planner_node]: Waiting for localization result to become available
[lanelet2_global_planner_node_exe-15] [ERROR] [1613130016.321167460] [planning.lanelet2_global_planner_node]: Failed to transform Pose to map frame
[p2d_ndt_localizer_exe-4] [ERROR] [1613130016.337780380] [localization.p2d_ndt_localizer_node]: Could not find a connection between 'map' and 'base_link' because they are not part of the same tree.Tf has two or more unconnected trees.

Solution: Initializing the localization

Planner failure

If the global planner cannot reach a goal pose, it outputs the following message:

[lanelet2_global_planner_node_exe-15] [ERROR] [planning.lanelet2_global_planner_node]: Global route has not been found!

Solution: This can happen is the position is too close to the vehicle as the global planner does not consider reversing and doesn't find a path within on lanelet in the map. Try a pose that is further away.

Physical demonstration

The physical AVP demonstration was performed at a car park in San Jose, CA, USA, in 2020 with a Lexus RX 450h equipped with

For videos of the Lexus performing the demonstration autonomously, please check Impressions from the Autonomous Valet Parking Demonstration.

Setup and launching (hardware)

Using the hardware that is defined in the Physical Demo section above, the demonstration can be run on physical hardware only in parking lots for which a Lanelet2 map and lidar map are available.

To run the demonstration on a physical vehicle using your own maps:

  1. Replace the paths to the .pcd and .yaml files for the PCD map in the src/tools/autoware_demos/param/map_publisher_vehicle.param.yaml with paths to your own map files.
  2. Replace the path to the .osm file for the Lanelet2 map in the src/tools/autoware_demos/param/lanelet2_map_provider.param.yaml with the path to your own map file.

Whether using your own maps or the existing ones:

  1. Install ADE
  2. In a new terminal, run the launch file for Milestone 3:
    $ ade enter
    ade$ source /opt/AutowareAuto/setup.bash
    ade$ ros2 launch autoware_demos avp_vehicle.launch.py
  3. In another terminal, Launch RViz2 for visualization.
    $ ade enter
    ade$ source /opt/AutowareAuto/setup.bash
    ade$ ros2 launch autoware_auto_launch autoware_auto_visualization.launch.py

System architecture for the AVP ODD

The system architecture that was developed to address the AVP ODD in Autoware.Auto is given below:

Autoware.Auto AVP Architecture