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