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Contextual Policy Search for Generalizing a Parameterized Biped Walking Controller

Abbas Abdolmaleki; Nuno Lau; Luís Paulo Reis; Jan Peters; Gerhard Neumann
In: ICARS 2015 - IEEE International Conference on Autonomous Robot Systems and Competitions. International Conference on Autonomous Robot Systems and Competitions (ICARSC-2015), April 8-10, Vila Real, Portugal, Pages 17-22, ISBN 978-1-4673-6991-6, IEEE, 2015.


We investigate learning of flexible Robot locomotion controller, i.e., the controllers should be applicable for multiple contexts, for example different walking speeds, various slopes of the terrain or other physical properties of the robot. In our experiments, contexts are desired walking linear speed and the direction of the gait. Current approaches for learning control parameters of biped locomotion controllers are typically only applicable for a single context. They can be used for a particular context, for example to learn a gait with highest speed, lowest energy consumption or a combination of both. The question of our research is, how can we obtain a flexible walking controller that controls the robot (near) optimally for many different contexts? We achieve the desired flexibility of the controller by applying the recently developed contextual relative entropy policy search(REPS) method. With such a contextual policy search algorithm, we can generalize the robot walking controller for different contexts, where a context is described by a real valued vector. In this paper we also extend the contextual REPS algorithm to learn a non-linear policy instead of a linear one over the contexts. In order to validate our method, we perform a simulation experiment using a simulated NAO humanoid robot. The robot now learns a policy to choose the controller parameters for a continuous set of walking speeds and directions.

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