- Abstract: This paper focuses on inverse reinforcement learning (IRL) for autonomous robot navigation using semantic observations. The objective is to infer a cost function that explains demonstrated behavior while relying only on the expert’s observations and state-control trajectory. We develop a map encoder, which infers semantic class probabilities from the observation sequence, and a cost encoder, defined as deep neural network over the semantic features. Since the expert cost is not directly ob-servable, the representation parameters can only be optimized by differentiating the error between demonstrated controls and a control policy computed from the cost estimate. The error is optimized using a closed-form subgradient computed only over a subset of promising states via a motion planning algorithm. We show that our approach learns to follow traffic rules in the autonomous driving CARLA simulator by relying on semantic observations of cars, sidewalks and road lanes.