Francesco Pittaluga NEC Labs America

Francesco Pittaluga


Media Analytics


Controllable Safety-Critical Closed-loop Traffic Simulation via Guided Diffusion

Evaluating the performance of autonomous vehicle planning algorithms necessitates simulating long-tail traffic scenarios. Traditional methods for generating safety-critical scenarios often fall short in realism and controllability. Furthermore, these techniques generally neglect the dynamics of agent interactions. To mitigate these limitations, we introduce a novel closed-loop simulation framework rooted in guided diffusion models. Our approach yields two distinct advantages: 1) the generation of realistic long-tail scenarios that closely emulate real-world conditions, and 2) enhanced controllability, enabling more comprehensive and interactive evaluations. We achieve this through novel guidance objectives that enhance road progress while lowering collision and off-road rates. We develop a novel approach to simulate safety-critical scenarios through an adversarial term in the denoising process, which allows the adversarial agent to challenge a planner with plausible maneuvers, while all agents in the scene exhibit reactive and realistic behaviors. We validate our framework empirically using the NuScenes dataset, demonstrating improvements in both realism and controllability. These findings affirm that guided diffusion models provide a robust and versatile foundation for safety-critical, interactive traffic simulation, extending their utility across the broader landscape of autonomous driving. For additional resources and demonstrations, visit our project page at

LLM-ASSIST: Enhancing Closed-Loop Planning with Language-Based Reasoning

Although planning is a crucial component of the autonomous driving stack, researchers have yet to develop robust planning algorithms that are capable of safely handling the diverse range of possible driving scenarios. Learning-based planners suffer from overfitting and poor long-tail performance. On the other hand, rule-based planners generalize well, but might fail to handle scenarios that require complex driving maneuvers. To address these limitations, we investigate the possibility of leveraging the common-sense reasoning capabilities of Large Language Models (LLMs) such as GPT4 and Llama2 to generate plans for self-driving vehicles. In particular, we develop a novel hybrid planner that leverages a conventional rule-based planner in conjunction with an LLM-based planner. Guided by commonsense reasoning abilities of LLMs, our approach navigates complex scenarios which existing planners struggle with, produces well-reasoned outputs while also remaining grounded through working alongside the rule-based approach. Through extensive evaluation on the nuPlan benchmark, we achieve state-of-the-art performance, outperforming all existing pure learning- and rule-based methods across most metrics. Our code will be available at

OpEnCam: Optical Encryption Camera

Lensless cameras multiplex the incoming light before it is recorded by the sensor. This ability to multiplex the incoming light has led to the development of ultra-thin, high-speed, and single-shot 3D imagers. Recently, there have been various attempts at demonstrating another useful aspect of lensless cameras – their ability to preserve the privacy of a scene by capturing encrypted measurements. However, existing lensless camera designs suffer numerous inherent privacy vulnerabilities. To demonstrate this, we develop the first comprehensive attack model for encryption cameras, and propose OpEnCam — a novel lensless OPtical ENcryption CAmera design that overcomes these vulnerabilities. OpEnCam encrypts the incoming light before capturing it using the modulating ability of optical masks. Recovery of the original scene from an OpEnCam measurement is possible only if one has access to the camera’s encryption key, defined by the unique optical elements of each camera. Our OpEnCam design introduces two major improvements over existing lensless camera designs – (a) the use of two co-axially located optical masks, one stuck to the sensor and the other a few millimeters above the sensor and (b) the design of mask patterns, which are derived heuristically from signal processing ideas. We show, through experiments, that OpEnCam is robust against a range of attack types while still maintaining the imaging capabilities of existing lensless cameras. We validate the efficacy of OpEnCam using simulated and real data. Finally, we built and tested a prototype in the lab for proof-of-concept.

NEC Labs America Team Heading to NeurIPS23 in New Orleans

NEC Labs America is proud to be a Silver Sponsor for NeurIPS 2023 in New Orleans from December 10-16. Visit our booth to meet our team and learn about our intern opportunities in machine learning, data science, media analytics and integrated systems. Also, our Vijay Kumar.B.G, Samuel Schulter & Manmohan Chandraker, along with Zaid Khan, Northeastern University and Yun Fu, UC San Diego will present a paper, Exploring Question Decomposition for Zero-Shot VQA.

LDP-Feat: Image Features with Local Differential Privacy

LDP-Feat: Image Features with Local Differential Privacy Modern computer vision services often require users to share raw feature descriptors with an untrusted server. This presents an inherent privacy risk, as raw descriptors may be used to recover the source images from which they were extracted. To address this issue, researchers recently proposed privatizing image features by embedding them within an affine subspace containing the original feature as well as adversarial feature samples. In this paper, we propose two novel inversion attacks to show that it is possible to (approximately) recover the original image features from these embeddings, allowing us to recover privacy-critical image content. In light of such successes and the lack of theoretical privacy guarantees afforded by existing visual privacy methods, we further propose the first method to privatize image features via local differential privacy, which, unlike prior approaches, provides a guaranteed bound for privacy leakage regardless of the strength of the attacks. In addition, our method yields strong performance in visual localization as a downstream task while enjoying the privacy guarantee.

Learning Phase Mask for Privacy-Preserving Passive Depth Estimation

Learning Phase Mask for Privacy-Preserving Passive Depth Estimation With over a billion sold each year, cameras are not only becoming ubiquitous, but are driving progress in a wide range of domains such as mixed reality, robotics, and more. However, severe concerns regarding the privacy implications of camera-based solutions currently limit the range of environments where cameras can be deployed. The key question we address is: Can cameras be enhanced with a scalable solution to preserve users’ privacy without degrading their machine intelligence capabilities? Our solution is a novel end-to-end adversarial learning pipeline in which a phase mask placed at the aperture plane of a camera is jointly optimized with respect to privacy and utility objectives. We conduct an extensive design space analysis to determine operating points with desirable privacy-utility tradeoffs that are also amenable to sensor fabrication and real-world constraints. We demonstrate the first working prototype that enables passive depth estimation while inhibiting face identification.

Divide-and-Conquer for Lane-Aware Diverse Trajectory Prediction

Trajectory prediction is a safety-critical tool for autonomous vehicles to plan and execute actions. Our work addresses two key challenges in trajectory prediction, learning multimodal outputs, and better predictions by imposing constraints using driving knowledge. Recent methods have achieved strong performances using Multi-Choice Learning objectives like winner-takes-all (WTA) or best-of-many. But the impact of those methods in learning diverse hypotheses is under-studied as such objectives highly depend on their initialization for diversity. As our first contribution, we propose a novel Divide-And-Conquer (DAC) approach that acts as a better initialization technique to WTA objective, resulting in diverse outputs without any spurious modes. Our second contribution is a novel trajectory prediction framework called ALAN that uses existing lane centerlines as anchors to provide trajectories constrained to the input lanes. Our framework provides multi-agent trajectory outputs in a forward pass by capturing interactions through hypercolumn descriptors and incorporating scene information in the form of rasterized images and per-agent lane anchors. Experiments on synthetic and real data show that the proposed DAC captures the data distribution better compare to other WTA family of objectives. Further, we show that our ALAN approach provides on par or better performance with SOTA methods evaluated on Nuscenes urban driving benchmark.

Voting Based Approaches For Differentially Private Federated Learning

Voting Based Approaches For Differentially Private Federated Learning Differentially Private Federated Learning (DPFL) is an emerging field with many applications. Gradient averaging based DPFL methods require costly communication rounds and hardly work with large capacity models, due to the explicit dimension dependence in its added noise. In this work, inspired by knowledge transfer non federated privacy learning from Papernot et al.(2017, 2018), we design two new DPFL schemes, by voting among the data labels returned from each local model, instead of averaging the gradients, which avoids the dimension dependence and significantly reduces the communication cost. Theoretically, by applying secure multi party computation, we could exponentially amplify the (data dependent) privacy guarantees when the margin of the voting scores are large. Extensive experiments show that our approaches significantly improve the privacy utility trade off over the state of the arts in DPFL.

SMART: Simultaneous Multi-Agent Recurrent Trajectory Prediction

We propose advances that address two key challenges in future trajectory prediction: (i) multimodality in both training data and predictions and (ii) constant time inference regardless of number of agents. Existing trajectory predictions are fundamentally limited by lack of diversity in training data, which is difficult to acquire with sufficient coverage of possible modes. Our first contribution is an automatic method to simulate diverse trajectories in the top-view. It uses pre-existing datasets and maps as initialization, mines existing trajectories to represent realistic driving behaviors and uses a multi-agent vehicle dynamics simulator to generate diverse new trajectories that cover various modes and are consistent with scene layout constraints. Our second contribution is a novel method that generates diverse predictions while accounting for scene semantics and multi-agent interactions, with constant-time inference independent of the number of agents. We propose a convLSTM with novel state pooling operations and losses to predict scene-consistent states of multiple agents in a single forward pass, along with a CVAE for diversity. We validate our proposed multi-agent trajectory prediction approach by training and testing on the proposed simulated dataset and existing real datasets of traffic scenes. In both cases, our approach outperforms SOTA methods by a large margin, highlighting the benefits of both our diverse dataset simulation and constant-time diverse trajectory prediction methods.”