Vikash Kumar

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  • Soft Actor-Critic Algorithms and Applications

    Model-free deep reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms have been successfully applied to a range of challenging sequential decision making and control tasks. However, these methods typically suffer from two major challenges: high sample complexity and brittleness to hyperparameters. Both of these challenges limit the applicability of such methods to real-world domains. In this paper, we describe Soft Actor-Critic (SAC), our recently introduced off-policy actor-critic algorithm based on the maximum entropy RL framework. In this framework, the actor aims to simultaneously maximize expected return and entropy. That is, to succeed at the task while acting as randomly as possible. We extend SAC to incorporate a number of modifications that accelerate training and improve stability with respect to the hyperparameters, including a constrained formulation that automatically tunes the temperature hyperparameter. We systematically evaluate SAC on a range of benchmark tasks, as well as real-world challenging tasks such as locomotion for a quadrupedal robot and robotic manipulation with a dexterous hand. With these improvements, SAC achieves state-of-the-art performance, outperforming prior on-policy and off-policy methods in sample-efficiency and asymptotic performance. Furthermore, we demonstrate that, in contrast to other off-policy algorithms, our approach is very stable, achieving similar performance across different random seeds. These results suggest that SAC is a promising candidate for learning in real-world robotics tasks.

    12/13/2018 ∙ by Tuomas Haarnoja, et al. ∙ 12 share

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  • Time Reversal as Self-Supervision

    A longstanding challenge in robot learning for manipulation tasks has been the ability to generalize to varying initial conditions, diverse objects, and changing objectives. Learning based approaches have shown promise in producing robust policies, but require heavy supervision to efficiently learn precise control, especially from visual inputs. We propose a novel self-supervision technique that uses time-reversal to learn goals and provide a high level plan to reach them. In particular, we introduce the time-reversal model (TRM), a self-supervised model which explores outward from a set of goal states and learns to predict these trajectories in reverse. This provides a high level plan towards goals, allowing us to learn complex manipulation tasks with no demonstrations or exploration at test time. We test our method on the domain of assembly, specifically the mating of tetris-style block pairs. Using our method operating atop visual model predictive control, we are able to assemble tetris blocks on a physical robot using only uncalibrated RGB camera input, and generalize to unseen block pairs.

    10/02/2018 ∙ by Suraj Nair, et al. ∙ 4 share

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  • Multi-Goal Reinforcement Learning: Challenging Robotics Environments and Request for Research

    The purpose of this technical report is two-fold. First of all, it introduces a suite of challenging continuous control tasks (integrated with OpenAI Gym) based on currently existing robotics hardware. The tasks include pushing, sliding and pick & place with a Fetch robotic arm as well as in-hand object manipulation with a Shadow Dexterous Hand. All tasks have sparse binary rewards and follow a Multi-Goal Reinforcement Learning (RL) framework in which an agent is told what to do using an additional input. The second part of the paper presents a set of concrete research ideas for improving RL algorithms, most of which are related to Multi-Goal RL and Hindsight Experience Replay.

    02/26/2018 ∙ by Matthias Plappert, et al. ∙ 2 share

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  • Learning Complex Dexterous Manipulation with Deep Reinforcement Learning and Demonstrations

    Dexterous multi-fingered hands are extremely versatile and provide a generic way to perform multiple tasks in human-centric environments. However, effectively controlling them remains challenging due to their high dimensionality and large number of potential contacts. Deep reinforcement learning (DRL) provides a model-agnostic approach to control complex dynamical systems, but has not been shown to scale to high-dimensional dexterous manipulation. Furthermore, deployment of DRL on physical systems remains challenging due to sample inefficiency. Thus, the success of DRL in robotics has thus far been limited to simpler manipulators and tasks. In this work, we show that model-free DRL with natural policy gradients can effectively scale up to complex manipulation tasks with a high-dimensional 24-DoF hand, and solve them from scratch in simulated experiments. Furthermore, with the use of a small number of human demonstrations, the sample complexity can be significantly reduced, and enable learning within the equivalent of a few hours of robot experience. We demonstrate successful policies for multiple complex tasks: object relocation, in-hand manipulation, tool use, and door opening.

    09/28/2017 ∙ by Aravind Rajeswaran, et al. ∙ 0 share

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  • Divide-and-Conquer Reinforcement Learning

    Standard model-free deep reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms sample a new initial state for each trial, allowing them to optimize policies that can perform well even in highly stochastic environments. However, problems that exhibit considerable initial state variation typically produce high-variance gradient estimates for model-free RL, making direct policy or value function optimization challenging. In this paper, we develop a novel algorithm that instead optimizes an ensemble of policies, each on a different "slice" of the initial state space, and gradually unifies them into a single policy that can succeed on the whole state space. This approach, which we term divide-and-conquer RL, is able to solve complex tasks where conventional deep RL methods are ineffective. Our results show that divide-and-conquer RL greatly outperforms conventional policy gradient methods on challenging grasping, manipulation, and locomotion tasks, and exceeds the performance of a variety of prior methods.

    11/27/2017 ∙ by Dibya Ghosh, et al. ∙ 0 share

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  • Variance Reduction for Policy Gradient with Action-Dependent Factorized Baselines

    Policy gradient methods have enjoyed great success in deep reinforcement learning but suffer from high variance of gradient estimates. The high variance problem is particularly exasperated in problems with long horizons or high-dimensional action spaces. To mitigate this issue, we derive a bias-free action-dependent baseline for variance reduction which fully exploits the structural form of the stochastic policy itself and does not make any additional assumptions about the MDP. We demonstrate and quantify the benefit of the action-dependent baseline through both theoretical analysis as well as numerical results, including an analysis of the suboptimality of the optimal state-dependent baseline. The result is a computationally efficient policy gradient algorithm, which scales to high-dimensional control problems, as demonstrated by a synthetic 2000-dimensional target matching task. Our experimental results indicate that action-dependent baselines allow for faster learning on standard reinforcement learning benchmarks and high-dimensional hand manipulation and synthetic tasks. Finally, we show that the general idea of including additional information in baselines for improved variance reduction can be extended to partially observed and multi-agent tasks.

    03/20/2018 ∙ by Cathy Wu, et al. ∙ 0 share

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  • Dexterous Manipulation with Deep Reinforcement Learning: Efficient, General, and Low-Cost

    Dexterous multi-fingered robotic hands can perform a wide range of manipulation skills, making them an appealing component for general-purpose robotic manipulators. However, such hands pose a major challenge for autonomous control, due to the high dimensionality of their configuration space and complex intermittent contact interactions. In this work, we propose deep reinforcement learning (deep RL) as a scalable solution for learning complex, contact rich behaviors with multi-fingered hands. Deep RL provides an end-to-end approach to directly map sensor readings to actions, without the need for task specific models or policy classes. We show that contact-rich manipulation behavior with multi-fingered hands can be learned by directly training with model-free deep RL algorithms in the real world, with minimal additional assumption and without the aid of simulation. We learn a variety of complex behaviors on two different low-cost hardware platforms. We show that each task can be learned entirely from scratch, and further study how the learning process can be further accelerated by using a small number of human demonstrations to bootstrap learning. Our experiments demonstrate that complex multi-fingered manipulation skills can be learned in the real world in about 4-7 hours for most tasks, and that demonstrations can decrease this to 2-3 hours, indicating that direct deep RL training in the real world is a viable and practical alternative to simulation and model-based control. <>

    10/14/2018 ∙ by Henry Zhu, et al. ∙ 0 share

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  • Learning Latent Plans from Play

    We propose learning from teleoperated play data (LfP) as a way to scale up multi-task robotic skill learning. Learning from play (LfP) offers three main advantages: 1) It is cheap. Large amounts of play data can be collected quickly as it does not require scene staging, task segmenting, or resetting to an initial state. 2) It is general. It contains both functional and non-functional behavior, relaxing the need for a predefined task distribution. 3) It is rich. Play involves repeated, varied behavior and naturally leads to high coverage of the possible interaction space. These properties distinguish play from expert demonstrations, which are rich, but expensive, and scripted unattended data collection, which is cheap, but insufficiently rich. Variety in play, however, presents a multimodality challenge to methods seeking to learn control on top. To this end, we introduce Play-LMP, a method designed to handle variability in the LfP setting by organizing it in an embedding space. Play-LMP jointly learns 1) reusable latent plan representations unsupervised from play data and 2) a single goal-conditioned policy capable of decoding inferred plans to achieve user-specified tasks. We show empirically that Play-LMP, despite not being trained on task-specific data, is capable of generalizing to 18 complex user-specified manipulation tasks with average success of 85.5 individual models trained on expert demonstrations (success of 70.3 Furthermore, we find that play-supervised models, unlike their expert-trained counterparts, 1) are more robust to perturbations and 2) exhibit retrying-till-success. Finally, despite never being trained with task labels, we find that our agent learns to organize its latent plan space around functional tasks. Videos of the performed experiments are available at

    03/05/2019 ∙ by Corey Lynch, et al. ∙ 0 share

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  • Dynamics-Aware Unsupervised Discovery of Skills

    Conventionally, model-based reinforcement learning (MBRL) aims to learn a global model for the dynamics of the environment. A good model can potentially enable planning algorithms to generate a large variety of behaviors and solve diverse tasks. However, learning an accurate model for complex dynamical systems is difficult, and even then, the model might not generalize well outside the distribution of states on which it was trained. In this work, we combine model-based learning with model-free learning of primitives that make model-based planning easy. To that end, we aim to answer the question: how can we discover skills whose outcomes are easy to predict? We propose an unsupervised learning algorithm, Dynamics-Aware Discovery of Skills (DADS), which simultaneously discovers predictable behaviors and learns their dynamics. Our method can leverage continuous skill spaces, theoretically, allowing us to learn infinitely many behaviors even for high-dimensional state-spaces. We demonstrate that zero-shot planning in the learned latent space significantly outperforms standard MBRL and model-free goal-conditioned RL, can handle sparse-reward tasks, and substantially improves over prior hierarchical RL methods for unsupervised skill discovery.

    07/02/2019 ∙ by Archit Sharma, et al. ∙ 0 share

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