Collaborating Authors

Robust Finite-State Controllers for Uncertain POMDPs Artificial Intelligence

Uncertain partially observable Markov decision processes (uPOMDPs) allow the probabilistic transition and observation functions of standard POMDPs to belong to a so-called uncertainty set. Such uncertainty sets capture uncountable sets of probability distributions. We develop an algorithm to compute finite-memory policies for uPOMDPs that robustly satisfy given specifications against any admissible distribution. In general, computing such policies is both theoretically and practically intractable. We provide an efficient solution to this problem in four steps. (1) We state the underlying problem as a nonconvex optimization problem with infinitely many constraints. (2) A dedicated dualization scheme yields a dual problem that is still nonconvex but has finitely many constraints. (3) We linearize this dual problem and (4) solve the resulting finite linear program to obtain locally optimal solutions to the original problem. The resulting problem formulation is exponentially smaller than those resulting from existing methods. We demonstrate the applicability of our algorithm using large instances of an aircraft collision-avoidance scenario and a novel spacecraft motion planning case study.

Point-Based Methods for Model Checking in Partially Observable Markov Decision Processes Artificial Intelligence

Autonomous systems are often required to operate in partially observable environments. They must reliably execute a specified objective even with incomplete information about the state of the environment. We propose a methodology to synthesize policies that satisfy a linear temporal logic formula in a partially observable Markov decision process (POMDP). By formulating a planning problem, we show how to use point-based value iteration methods to efficiently approximate the maximum probability of satisfying a desired logical formula and compute the associated belief state policy. We demonstrate that our method scales to large POMDP domains and provides strong bounds on the performance of the resulting policy.

Efficient Planning under Uncertainty with Macro-actions Artificial Intelligence

Deciding how to act in partially observable environments remains an active area of research. Identifying good sequences of decisions is particularly challenging when good control performance requires planning multiple steps into the future in domains with many states. Towards addressing this challenge, we present an online, forward-search algorithm called the Posterior Belief Distribution (PBD). PBD leverages a novel method for calculating the posterior distribution over beliefs that result after a sequence of actions is taken, given the set of observation sequences that could be received during this process. This method allows us to efficiently evaluate the expected reward of a sequence of primitive actions, which we refer to as macro-actions. We present a formal analysis of our approach, and examine its performance on two very large simulation experiments: scientific exploration and a target monitoring domain. We also demonstrate our algorithm being used to control a real robotic helicopter in a target monitoring experiment, which suggests that our approach has practical potential for planning in real-world, large partially observable domains where a multi-step lookahead is required to achieve good performance.

Probabilistic Guarantees for Safe Deep Reinforcement Learning Artificial Intelligence

Deep reinforcement learning has been successfully applied to many control tasks, but the application of such controllers in safetycritical scenarios has been limited due to safety concerns. Rigorous testing of these controllers is challenging, particularly when they operate in probabilistic environments due to, for example, hardware faults or noisy sensors. We propose MOSAIC, an algorithm for measuring the safety of deep reinforcement learning controllers in stochastic settings. Our approach is based on the iterative construction of a formal abstraction of a controller's execution in an environment, and leverages probabilistic model checking of Markov decision processes to produce probabilistic guarantees on safe behaviour over a finite time horizon. It produces bounds on the probability of safe operation of the controller for different initial configurations and identifies regions where correct behaviour can be guaranteed. We implement and evaluate our approach on controllers trained for several benchmark control problems.

PODDP: Partially Observable Differential Dynamic Programming for Latent Belief Space Planning Artificial Intelligence

Autonomous agents are limited in their ability to observe the world state. Partially observable Markov decision processes (POMDPs) formally model the problem of planning under world state uncertainty, but POMDPs with continuous actions and nonlinear dynamics suitable for robotics applications are challenging to solve. In this paper, we present an efficient differential dynamic programming (DDP) algorithm for belief space planning in POMDPs with uncertainty over a discrete latent state, and continuous states, actions, observations, and nonlinear dynamics. This representation allows planning of dynamic trajectories which are sensitive to structured uncertainty over discrete latent world states. We develop dynamic programming techniques to optimize a contingency plan over a tree of possible observations and belief space trajectories, and also derive a hierarchical version of the algorithm. Our method is applicable to problems with uncertainty over the cost or reward function (e.g., the configuration of goals or obstacles), uncertainty over the dynamics (e.g., the dynamical mode of a hybrid system), and uncertainty about interactions, where other agents' behavior is conditioned on latent intentions. Benchmarks show that our algorithm outperforms popular heuristic approaches to planning under uncertainty, and results from an autonomous lane changing task demonstrate that our algorithm can synthesize robust interactive trajectories.