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Title: Efficient supervision for robot learning via imitation, simulation, and adaptation
Author: Wulfmeier, Markus
ISNI:       0000 0004 7430 6280
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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In order to enable more widespread application of robots, we are required to reduce the human effort for the introduction of existing robotic platforms to new environments and tasks. In this thesis, we identify three complementary strategies to address this challenge, via the use of imitation learning, domain adaptation, and transfer learning based on simulations. The overall work strives to reduce the effort of generating training data by employing inexpensively obtainable labels and by transferring information between different domains with deviating underlying properties. Imitation learning enables a straightforward way for untrained personnel to teach robots to perform tasks by providing demonstrations, which represent a comparably inexpensive source of supervision. We develop a scalable approach to identify the preferences underlying demonstration data via the framework of inverse reinforcement learning. The method enables integration of the extracted preferences as cost maps into existing motion planning systems. We further incorporate prior domain knowledge and demonstrate that the approach outperforms the baselines including manually crafted cost functions. In addition to employing low-cost labels from demonstration, we investigate the adaptation of models to domains without available supervisory information. Specifically, the challenge of appearance changes in outdoor robotics such as illumination and weather shifts is addressed using an adversarial domain adaptation approach. A principal advantage of the method over prior work is the straightforwardness of adapting arbitrary, state-of-the-art neural network architectures. Finally, we demonstrate performance benefits of the method for semantic segmentation of drivable terrain. Our last contribution focuses on simulation to real world transfer learning, where the characteristic differences are not only regarding the visual appearance but the underlying system dynamics. Our work aims at parallel training in both systems and mutual guidance via auxiliary alignment rewards to accelerate training for real world systems. The approach is shown to outperform various baselines as well as a unilateral alignment variant.
Supervisor: Zisserman, Andrew ; Riedmiller, Martin ; Newman, Paul ; Posner, Ingmar Sponsor: EPSRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Machine learning ; Robotics ; Domain Adaptation ; Imitation Learning ; Inverse Reinforcement Learning ; Mobile Robotics ; Transfer Learning ; Autonomous Driving