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Ken Caluwaerts

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    Rapidly Adaptable Legged Robots via Evolutionary Meta-Learning
    Xingyou Song
    Yuxiang Yang
    Wenbo Gao
    Chelsea Finn
    International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) (2020) (to appear)
    Preview abstract Learning adaptable policies is crucial for robots to operate autonomously in our complex and quickly changing world. In this work, we present a new meta-learning method that allows robots to quickly adapt to changes in dynamics. In contrast to gradient-based meta-learning algorithms that rely on second-order gradient estimation, we introduce a more noise-tolerant Batch Hill-Climbing adaptation operator and combine it with meta-learning based on evolutionary strategies. Our method significantly improves adaptation to changes in dynamics in high noise settings, which are common in robotics applications. We validate our approach on a quadruped robot that learns to walk while subject to changes in dynamics. We observe that our method significantly outperforms prior gradient-based approaches, enabling the robot to adapt its policy to changes based on less than 3 minutes of real data. View details
    Preview 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. View details
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