Publication Articles


Model-Based Action Exploration for Learning Dynamic Motion Skills

Glen Berseth, Alex Kyriazis, Ivan Zinin, William Choi, Michiel van de Panne

Deep reinforcement learning has achieved great strides in solving challenging motion control tasks. Recently, there has been significant work on methods for exploiting the data gathered during training, but there has been less work on how to best generate the data to learn from. For continuous action domains, the most common method for generating exploratory actions involves sampling from a Gaussian distribution centred around the mean action output by a policy. Although these methods can be quite capable, they do not scale well with the dimensionality of the action space, and can be dangerous to apply on hardware. We consider learning a forward dynamics model to predict the result, \((x_{t+1})\), of taking a particular action, \((u_{t})\), given a specific observation of the state, \((x_{t})\). With this model we perform internal look-ahead predictions of outcomes and seek actions we believe have a reasonable chance of success. This method alters the exploratory action space, thereby increasing learning speed and enables higher quality solutions to difficult problems, such as robotic locomotion and juggling


TerrainRL Sim

Glen Berseth, Xue Bin Peng, Michiel van de Panne

We provide \(88\) challenging simulation environments that range in difficulty. The difficulty in these \environments is linked not only to the number of dimensions in the action space but also to the task complexity. Using more complex and accurate simulations will help push the field closer to creating human-level intelligence. Therefore, we are releasing a number of simulation \environments that include local egocentric visual perception. These \environments include randomly generated terrain which the \agent needs to learn to interpret via visual features. The library also provides simple mechanisms to create new environments with different \agent morphologies and the option to modify the distribution of generated terrain.


Progressive Reinforcement Learning with Distillation for Multi-Skilled Motion Control

Glen Berseth, Cheng Xie, Paul Cernek, Michiel van de Panne

Deep reinforcement learning has demonstrated increasing capabilities for continuous control problems, including agents that can move with skill and agility through their environment. An open problem in this setting is that of developing good strategies for integrating or merging policies for multiple skills, where each individual skill is a specialist in a specific skill and its associated state distribution. We extend policy distillation methods to the continuous action setting and leverage this technique to combine expert policies, as evaluated in the domain of simulated bipedal locomotion across different classes of terrain. We also introduce an input injection method for augmenting an existing policy network to exploit new input features. Lastly, our method uses transfer learning to assist in the efficient acquisition of new skills. The combination of these methods allows a policy to be incrementally augmented with new skills. We compare our progressive learning and integration via distillation (PLAID) method against three alternative baselines.


DeepLoco: Dynamic Locomotion Skills Using Hierarchical Deep Reinforcement Learning

Xue Bin Peng, Glen Berseth, KangKang Yin, Michiel van de Panne

Learning physics-based locomotion skills is a difficult problem, leading to solutions that typically exploit prior knowledge of various forms. In this paper, we aim to learn a variety of environment-aware locomotion skills with a limited amount of prior knowledge. We adopt a two-level hierarchical control framework. First, low-level controllers are learned that operate at a fine timescale and which achieve robust walking gaits that satisfy stepping-target and style objectives. Second, high-level controllers are then learned which plan at the timescale of steps by invoking desired step targets for the low-level controller. The high-level controller makes decisions directly based on high-dimensional inputs, including terrain maps or other suitable representations of the surroundings. Both levels of the control policy are trained using deep reinforcement learning. Results are demonstrated on a simulated 3D biped. Low-level controllers are learned for a variety of motion styles and demonstrate robustness with respect to force-based disturbances, terrain variations, and style interpolation. High-level controllers are demonstrated that are capable of following trails through terrains, dribbling a soccer ball towards a target location, and navigating through static or dynamic obstacles.


Towards Computer Assisted Crowd Aware Architectural Design

Brandon Haworth, Muhammad Usman, Glen Berseth, Mahyar Khayatkhoei, Mubbasir Turab Kapadia, Petros Faloutsos

We present a preliminary exploration of an architectural optimization process towards a computational tool for designing environments (e.g., building floor plans). Using dynamic crowd simulators we derive the fitness of architectural layouts. The results of the simulation are used to provide feedback to a user in terms of crowd animation, aggregate statistics, and heat maps. Our approach automatically optimizes the placement of environment elements to maximize the flow of the crowd, while satisfying constraints that are imposed by the user (e.g., immovable walls or support bearing structures). We take steps towards user-in-the-loop optimization and design of an environment by applying an adaptive refinement approach to reduce the search space of the optimization. We perform a small scale user study to obtain early feedback on the performance and quality of our method in contrast with a manual approach.