Smooth Exploration for Robotic Reinforcement Learning
Proceedings of the 5th Conference on Robot Learning, PMLR 164:1634-1644, 2022.
Reinforcement learning (RL) enables robots to learn skills from interactions with the real world. In practice, the unstructured step-based exploration used in Deep RL – often very successful in simulation – leads to jerky motion patterns on real robots. Consequences of the resulting shaky behavior are poor exploration, or even damage to the robot. We address these issues by adapting state-dependent exploration (SDE) to current Deep RL algorithms. To enable this adaptation, we propose two extensions to the original SDE, using more general features and re-sampling the noise periodically, which leads to a new exploration method generalized state-dependent exploration (gSDE). We evaluate gSDE both in simulation, on PyBullet continuous control tasks, and directly on three different real robots: a tendon-driven elastic robot, a quadruped and an RC car. The noise sampling interval of gSDE enables a compromise between performance and smoothness, which allows training directly on the real robots without loss of performance.