GLSO: Grammar-guided Latent Space Optimization for Sample-efficient Robot Design Automation
Proceedings of The 6th Conference on Robot Learning, PMLR 205:1321-1331, 2023.
Robots have been used in all sorts of automation, and yet the design of robots remains mainly a manual task. We seek to provide design tools to automate the design of robots themselves. An important challenge in robot design automation is the large and complex design search space which grows exponentially with the number of components, making optimization difficult and sample inefficient. In this work, we present Grammar-guided Latent Space Optimization (GLSO), a framework that transforms design automation into a low-dimensional continuous optimization problem by training a graph variational autoencoder (VAE) to learn a mapping between the graph-structured design space and a continuous latent space. This transformation allows optimization to be conducted in a continuous latent space, where sample efficiency can be significantly boosted by applying algorithms such as Bayesian Optimization. GLSO guides training of the VAE using graph grammar rules and robot world space features, such that the learned latent space focus on valid robots and is easier for the optimization algorithm to explore. Importantly, the trained VAE can be reused to search for designs specialized to multiple different tasks without retraining. We evaluate GLSO by designing robots for a set of locomotion tasks in simulation, and demonstrate that our method outperforms related state-of-the-art robot design automation methods.