We propose a two-phase method for learning safe control in fully controllable robotic manipulation tasks. In the first phase, the state-space support of supervisor demonstrations is estimated to infer implicit constraints. In the second phase, we present a switching policy to prevent the robot from leaving safe states. The policy switches between the robot’s learned policy and a novel failure-avoidance policy depending on the distance to the boundary of the support. We prove that inferred constraints are guaranteed to be enforced if the support is well-estimated. A simulated pushing task suggests that support estimation and failure avoidance control can reduce failures by 87% while sacrificing only 40% of performance. On a line tracking task using a da Vinci surgical robot, failure avoidance control reduced failures by 84%.
Discovery of Deep Continuous Options (DDCO) learns from demonstrations low-level continuous control skills parametrized by deep neural networks. A hybrid categorical–continuous distribution model parametrizes high-level policies that can invoke discrete options as well continuous control actions, and a cross-validation method tunes the number of options to be discovered. We evaluate DDCO in simulation of a 3-link robot, and in two physical experiments on the da Vinci surgical robot.
* Equal contribution
DART injects noise during supervisor demonstrations, with a noise level optimized to approximate the error of the robot’s trained policy. This forces the supervisor to demonstrate how to recover from errors, and doesn’t suffer from supervisor burden, computational cost, and training risk as much as on-policy methods. DART learns better policies faster and from fewer demonstrations.
We explore how characterizing supervisor inconsistency and correcting for this noise can improve task performance with a limited budget of data. In a planar part extraction task where human operators provide demonstrations by teleoperating a 2DOF robot, CNN models perform better when trained after error corrections.
Symposia and Workshops
We propose to pre-train perceptual embeddings for reinforcement learning, on the task of predicting future rewards for various action sequences. Unlike autoencoders and state-predictive embeddings, the proposed embedding is not concerned with reconstructing irrelevant perceptual features, such as raw pixels. We demonstrate that the learned embedding can reconstruct task-relevant state features and improve learning performance.
Existing techniques for automated option discovery do not scale to multi-level hierarchies and to expressive representations such as deep networks. We present Discovery of Deep Options (DDO), a policy-gradient algorithm that discovers parametrized options from a set of demonstration trajectories, and can be used recursively to discover additional levels of the hierarchy. We show that DDO is effective in adding options that accelerate learning in 4 out of 5 Atari RAM environments chosen in our experiments. We also show that DDO can discover structure in robot-assisted surgical videos and kinematics that match expert annotation with 72% accuracy.
* Equal contribution