Sparse Gaussian Process Temporal Difference Learning for Marine Robot Navigation


John Martin, Jinkun Wang, Brendan Englot ;
Proceedings of The 2nd Conference on Robot Learning, PMLR 87:179-189, 2018.


We present a method for Temporal Difference (TD) learning that addresses several challenges faced by robots learning to navigate in a marine environment. For improved data efficiency, our method reduces TD updates to Gaussian Process regression. To make predictions amenable to online settings, we introduce a sparse approximation with improved quality over current rejection-based methods. We derive the predictive value function posterior and use the moments to obtain a new algorithm for model-free policy evaluation, SPGP-SARSA. With simple changes, we show SPGP-SARSA can be reduced to a model-based equivalent, SPGP-TD. We perform comprehensive simulation studies and also conduct physical learning trials with an underwater robot. Our results show SPGP-SARSA can outperform the state-of-the-art sparse method, replicate the prediction quality of its exact counterpart, and be applied to solve underwater navigation tasks.

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