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Flexible and Efficient Long-Range Planning Through Curious Exploration

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Identifying algorithms that flexibly and efficiently discover temporally-extended multi-phase plans is an essential step for the advancement of robotics and model-based reinforcement learning. The core problem of long-range planning is finding an efficient way to search through the tree of possible action sequences. Existing non-learned planning solutions from the Task and Motion Planning (TAMP) literature rely on the existence of logical descriptions for the effects and preconditions for actions. This constraint allows TAMP methods to efficiently reduce the tree search problem but limits their ability to generalize to unseen and complex physical environments. In contrast, deep reinforcement learning (DRL) methods use flexible neural-network-based function approximators to discover policies that generalize naturally to unseen circumstances. However, DRL methods struggle to handle the very sparse reward landscapes inherent to long-range multi-step planning situations. Here, we propose the Curious Sample Planner (CSP), which fuses elements of TAMP and DRL by combining a curiosity-guided sampling strategy with imitation learning to accelerate planning. We show that CSP can efficiently discover interesting and complex temporally-extended plans for solving a wide range of physically realistic 3D tasks. In contrast, standard planning and learning methods often fail to solve these tasks at all or do so only with a huge and highly variable number of training samples. We explore the use of a variety of curiosity metrics with CSP and analyze the types of solutions that CSP discovers. Finally, we show that CSP supports task transfer so that the exploration policies learned during experience with one task can help improve efficiency on related tasks.


CNN Encoder to Reduce the Dimensionality of Data Image for Motion Planning

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Many real-world applications need path planning algorithms to solve tasks in different areas, such as social applications, autonomous cars, and tracking activities. And most importantly motion planning. Although the use of path planning is sufficient in most motion planning scenarios, they represent potential bottlenecks in large environments with dynamic changes. To tackle this problem, the number of possible routes could be reduced to make it easier for path planning algorithms to find the shortest path with less efforts. An traditional algorithm for path planning is the A*, it uses an heuristic to work faster than other solutions. In this work, we propose a CNN encoder capable of eliminating useless routes for motion planning problems, then we combine the proposed neural network output with A*. To measure the efficiency of our solution, we propose a database with different scenarios of motion planning problems. The evaluated metric is the number of the iterations to find the shortest path. The A* was compared with the CNN Encoder (proposal) with A*. In all evaluated scenarios, our solution reduced the number of iterations by more than 60\%.


Experimental Comparison of Global Motion Planning Algorithms for Wheeled Mobile Robots

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Planning smooth and energy-efficient motions for wheeled mobile robots is a central task for applications ranging from autonomous driving to service and intralogistic robotics. Over the past decades, a wide variety of motion planners, steer functions and path-improvement techniques have been proposed for such non-holonomic systems. With the objective of comparing this large assortment of state-of-the-art motion-planning techniques, we introduce a novel open-source motion-planning benchmark for wheeled mobile robots, whose scenarios resemble real-world applications (such as navigating warehouses, moving in cluttered cities or parking), and propose metrics for planning efficiency and path quality. Our benchmark is easy to use and extend, and thus allows practitioners and researchers to evaluate new motion-planning algorithms, scenarios and metrics easily. We use our benchmark to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of several common state-of-the-art motion planners and provide recommendations on when they should be used.


Task-assisted Motion Planning in Partially Observable Domains

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Antony Thomas and Sunny Amatya † and Fulvio Mastrogiovanni and Marco Baglietto Abstract -- We present an integrated T ask-Motion Planning framework for robot navigation in belief space. Autonomous robots operating in real world complex scenarios require planning in the discrete (task) space and the continuous (motion) space. T o this end, we propose a framework for integrating belief space reasoning within a hybrid task planner . The expressive power of PDDL combined with heuristic-driven semantic attachments performs the propagated and posterior belief estimates while planning. The underlying methodology for the development of the combined hybrid planner is discussed, providing suggestions for improvements and future work. I NTRODUCTION Autonomous robots operating in complex real world scenarios require different levels of planning to execute their tasks. High-level (task) planning helps break down a given set of tasks into a sequence of sub-tasks, actual execution of each of these sub-tasks would require low-level control actions to generate appropriate robot motions. In fact, the dependency between logical and geometrical aspects is pervasive in both task planning and execution. Hence, planning should be performed in the task-motion or the discrete-continuous space. In recent years, combining high-level task planning with low-level motion planning has been a subject of great interest among the Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) community.


Self-Supervised Damage-Avoiding Manipulation Strategy Optimization via Mental Simulation

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Everyday robotics are challenged to deal with autonomous product handling in applications like logistics or retail, possibly causing damage on the items during manipulation. Traditionally, most approaches try to minimize physical interaction with goods. However, this paper proposes to take into account any unintended object motion and to learn damage-minimizing manipulation strategies in a self-supervised way. The presented approach consists of a simulation-based planning method for an optimal manipulation sequence with respect to possible damage. The planned manipulation sequences are generalized to new, unseen scenes in the same application scenario using machine learning. This learned manipulation strategy is continuously refined in a self-supervised, simulation-in-the-loop optimization cycle during load-free times of the system, commonly known as mental simulation. In parallel, the generated manipulation strategies can be deployed in near-real time in an anytime fashion. The approach is validated on an industrial container-unloading scenario and on a retail shelf-replenishment scenario.


Motion Planning Networks: Bridging the Gap Between Learning-based and Classical Motion Planners

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

This paper describes Motion Planning Networks (MPNet), a computationally efficient, learning-based neural planner for solving motion planning problems. MPNet uses neural networks to learn general near-optimal heuristics for path planning in seen and unseen environments. It receives environment information as point-clouds, as well as a robot's initial and desired goal configurations and recursively calls itself to bidirectionally generate connectable paths. In addition to finding directly connectable and near-optimal paths in a single pass, we show that worst-case theoretical guarantees can be proven if we merge this neural network strategy with classical sample-based planners in a hybrid approach while still retaining significant computational and optimality improvements. To learn the MPNet models, we present an active continual learning approach that enables MPNet to learn from streaming data and actively ask for expert demonstrations when needed, drastically reducing data for training. We validate MPNet against gold-standard and state-of-the-art planning methods in a variety of problems from 2D to 7D robot configuration spaces in challenging and cluttered environments, with results showing significant and consistently stronger performance metrics, and motivating neural planning in general as a modern strategy for solving motion planning problems efficiently.


Neural Path Planning: Fixed Time, Near-Optimal Path Generation via Oracle Imitation

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Fast and efficient path generation is critical for robots operating in complex environments. This motion planning problem is often performed in a robot's actuation or configuration space, where popular pathfinding methods such as A*, RRT*, get exponentially more computationally expensive to execute as the dimensionality increases or the spaces become more cluttered and complex. On the other hand, if one were to save the entire set of paths connecting all pair of locations in the configuration space a priori, one would run out of memory very quickly. In this work, we introduce a novel way of producing fast and optimal motion plans for static environments by using a stepping neural network approach, called OracleNet. OracleNet uses Recurrent Neural Networks to determine end-to-end trajectories in an iterative manner that implicitly generates optimal motion plans with minimal loss in performance in a compact form. The algorithm is straightforward in implementation while consistently generating near-optimal paths in a single, iterative, end-to-end roll-out. In practice, OracleNet generally has fixed-time execution regardless of the configuration space complexity while outperforming popular pathfinding algorithms in complex environments and higher dimensions


Learning to Predict Ego-Vehicle Poses for Sampling-Based Nonholonomic Motion Planning

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Abstract-- Sampling-based motion planning is an effective tool to compute safe trajectories for automated vehicles in complex environments. However, a fast convergence to the optimal solution can only be ensured with the use of problemspecific samplingdistributions. Due to the large variety of driving situations within the context of automated driving, it is very challenging to manually design such distributions. This paper introduces therefore a data-driven approach utilizing a deep convolutional neural network (CNN): Given the current driving situation, future ego-vehicle poses can be directly generated from the output of the CNN allowing to guide the motion planner efficiently towards the optimal solution. A benchmark highlights that the CNN predicts future vehicle poses with a higher accuracy compared to uniform sampling and a state-of-the-art A*-based approach. Combining this CNNguided samplingwith the motion planner Bidirectional RRT* reduces the computation time by up to an order of magnitude and yields a faster convergence to a lower cost as well as a success rate of 100 % in the tested scenarios. I. INTRODUCTION Motion planning is one of the major pillars in the software architecture of automated vehicles. Its task is to compute a safe trajectory from start goal taking into account the vehicle's constraints, the non-convex surrounding as well as the comfort requirements of passengers. In structured environments, such as highway driving, it is sufficient to solve the motion planning problem locally close to the lane centerline.


Learning Quickly to Plan Quickly Using Modular Meta-Learning

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Multi-object manipulation problems in continuous state and action spaces can be solved by planners that search over sampled values for the continuous parameters of operators. The efficiency of these planners depends critically on the effectiveness of the samplers used, but effective sampling in turn depends on details of the robot, environment, and task. Our strategy is to learn functions called specializers that generate values for continuous operator parameters, given a state description and values for the discrete parameters. Rather than trying to learn a single specializer for each operator from large amounts of data on a single task, we take a modular meta-learning approach. We train on multiple tasks and learn a variety of specializers that, on a new task, can be quickly adapted using relatively little data -- thus, our system "learns quickly to plan quickly" using these specializers. We validate our approach experimentally in simulated 3D pick-and-place tasks with continuous state and action spaces.


Learning to guide task and motion planning using score-space representation

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

In this paper, we propose a learning algorithm that speeds up the search in task and motion planning problems. Our algorithm proposes solutions to three different challenges that arise in learning to improve planning efficiency: what to predict, how to represent a planning problem instance, and how to transfer knowledge from one problem instance to another. We propose a method that predicts constraints on the search space based on a generic representation of a planning problem instance, called score-space, where we represent a problem instance in terms of the performance of a set of solutions attempted so far. Using this representation, we transfer knowledge, in the form of constraints, from previous problems based on the similarity in score space. We design a sequential algorithm that efficiently predicts these constraints, and evaluate it in three different challenging task and motion planning problems. Results indicate that our approach performs orders of magnitudes faster than an unguided planner