Policies Modulating Trajectory Generators

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Atil Iscen, Ken Caluwaerts, Jie Tan, Tingnan Zhang, Erwin Coumans, Vikas Sindhwani, Vincent Vanhoucke ;
Proceedings of The 2nd Conference on Robot Learning, PMLR 87:916-926, 2018.

Abstract

We propose an architecture for learning complex controllable behaviors by having simple Policies Modulate Trajectory Generators (PMTG), a powerful combination that can provide both memory and prior knowledge to the controller. The result is a flexible architecture that is applicable to a class of problems with periodic motion for which one has an insight into the class of trajectories that might lead to a desired behavior. We illustrate the basics of our architecture using a synthetic control problem, then go on to learn speed-controlled locomotion for a quadrupedal robot by using Deep Reinforcement Learning and Evolutionary Strategies. We demonstrate that a simple linear policy, when paired with a parametric Trajectory Generator for quadrupedal gaits, can induce walking behaviors with controllable speed from 4-dimensional IMU observations alone, and can be learned in under 1000 rollouts. We also transfer these policies to a real robot and show locomotion with controllable forward velocity.

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