Keywords: Autonomous Driving, Transformers, Explainability
TL;DR: We propose PlanT, a state-of-the-art planner for self-driving based on object-level representations and a transformer architecture which can explain its decisions by identifying the most relevant object.
Abstract: Planning an optimal route in a complex environment requires efficient reasoning about the surrounding scene. While human drivers prioritize important objects and ignore details not relevant to the decision, learning-based planners typically extract features from dense, high-dimensional grid representations containing all vehicle and road context information. In this paper, we propose PlanT, a novel approach for planning in the context of self-driving that uses a standard transformer architecture. PlanT is based on imitation learning with a compact object-level input representation. On the Longest6 benchmark for CARLA, PlanT outperforms all prior methods (matching the driving score of the expert) while being 5.3x faster than equivalent pixel-based planning baselines during inference. Combining PlanT with an off-the-shelf perception module provides a sensor-based driving system that is more than 10 points better in terms of driving score than the existing state of the art. Furthermore, we propose an evaluation protocol to quantify the ability of planners to identify relevant objects, providing insights regarding their decision-making. Our results indicate that PlanT can focus on the most relevant object in the scene, even when this object is geometrically distant.