Simultaneous Control and Human Feedback in the Training of a Robotic Agent with Actor-Critic Reinforcement Learning

06/22/2016
by   Kory W. Mathewson, et al.
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This paper contributes a preliminary report on the advantages and disadvantages of incorporating simultaneous human control and feedback signals in the training of a reinforcement learning robotic agent. While robotic human-machine interfaces have become increasingly complex in both form and function, control remains challenging for users. This has resulted in an increasing gap between user control approaches and the number of robotic motors which can be controlled. One way to address this gap is to shift some autonomy to the robot. Semi-autonomous actions of the robotic agent can then be shaped by human feedback, simplifying user control. Most prior work on agent shaping by humans has incorporated training with feedback, or has included indirect control signals. By contrast, in this paper we explore how a human can provide concurrent feedback signals and real-time myoelectric control signals to train a robot's actor-critic reinforcement learning control system. Using both a physical and a simulated robotic system, we compare training performance on a simple movement task when reward is derived from the environment, when reward is provided by the human, and combinations of these two approaches. Our results indicate that some benefit can be gained with the inclusion of human generated feedback.

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