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Workshop: Distribution shifts: connecting methods and applications (DistShift)

Towards Robust and Adaptable Motion Forecasting: A Causal Representation Perspective

Yuejiang Liu · Alexandre Alahi


Learning behavioral patterns from observational data has been a \textit{de-facto} approach to motion forecasting. Yet, the current paradigm suffers from two fundamental shortcomings: brittle under covariate shift and inefficient for knowledge transfer. In this work, we propose to address these challenges from a causal representation perspective. We first introduce a causal formalism of motion forecasting, which casts the problem as a dynamic process with physical mechanisms, style confounders, and spurious correlations. We then propose two components that explicitly promote the robustness and reusability of the learned motion presentations: (i) unlike the common practice of merging datasets collected from different locations, we exploit their subtle distinctions by means of an invariance loss function, which encourages the model to suppress spurious correlations and capture physical mechanisms; (ii) we devise a modular architecture that factorizes the representations of physical laws and motion styles in a structured way, and progressively prune their dense connections during training to approximate a sparse causal graph. We empirically validate the strength of the proposed method for robust generalization in controlled real-world experiments. We finally discuss the challenges and opportunities in the presence of style shifts through synthetic simulations.

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