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Chance-Constrained Trajectory Optimization for Non-linear Systems with Unknown Stochastic Dynamics

Onur Celik; Hany Abdulsamad; Jan Peters
In: 2019 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS-2019), November 3-8, Macau, China, Pages 6828-6833, IEEE, 2019.


Iterative trajectory optimization techniques for non-linear dynamical systems are among the most powerful and sample-efficient methods of model-based reinforcement learning and approximate optimal control. By leveraging time-variant local linear-quadratic approximations of system dynamics and reward, such methods can find both a target-optimal trajectory and time-variant optimal feedback controllers. However, the local linear-quadratic assumptions are a major source of optimization bias that leads to catastrophic greedy updates, raising the issue of proper regularization. Moreover, the approximate models' disregard for any physical state-action limits of the system causes further aggravation of the problem, as the optimization moves towards unreachable areas of the state-action space. In this paper, we address the issue of constrained systems in the scenario of online-fitted stochastic linear dynamics. We propose modeling state and action physical limits as probabilistic chance constraints linear in both state and action and introduce a new trajectory optimization technique that integrates these probabilistic constraints by optimizing a relaxed quadratic program. Our empirical evaluations show a significant improvement in learning robustness, which enables our approach to perform more effective updates and avoid premature convergence observed in state-of-the-art algorithms.

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