From the paper:
We present a novel, data-driven framework for planning socially competent robot behaviors in crowded environments. The core of our approach is a topological model of collective navigation behaviors, based on braid groups. This model constitutes the basis for the design of a human-inspired probabilistic inference mechanism that predicts the topology of multiple agents’ future trajectories, given observations of the context. We derive an approximation of this mechanism by employing a neural network learning architecture on synthetic data of collective navigation behaviors. Our planner makes use of this mechanism as a tool for interpreting the context and understanding what future behaviors are in compliance with it. The planning agent makes use of this understanding to determine a personal action that contributes to the context in the most clear way possible, while ensuring progress to its destination. Our simulations provide evidence that our planning framework results in socially competent navigation behaviors not only for the planning agent, but also for interacting naive agents. Performance benefits include (1) early conflict resolutions and (2) faster uncertainty decrease for the other agents in the scene.