Collaborating Authors

Exploration with Unreliable Intrinsic Reward in Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning


This paper investigates the use of intrinsic reward to guide exploration in multi-agent reinforcement learning. We discuss the challenges in applying intrinsic reward to multiple collaborative agents and demonstrate how unreliable reward can prevent decentralized agents from learning the optimal policy. We address this problem with a novel framework, Independent Centrally-assisted Q-learning (ICQL), in which decentralized agents share control and an experience replay buffer with a centralized agent. Only the centralized agent is intrinsically rewarded, but the decentralized agents still benefit from improved exploration, without the distraction of unreliable incentives.

Scheduled Intrinsic Drive: A Hierarchical Take on Intrinsically Motivated Exploration Artificial Intelligence

Exploration in sparse reward reinforcement learning remains a difficult open challenge. Many state-of-the-art methods use intrinsic motivation to complement the sparse extrinsic reward signal, giving the agent more opportunities to receive feedback during exploration. Most commonly, these signals are added as bonus rewards, which results in the mixture policy faithfully conducting neither exploration nor task fulfillment for an extended amount of time. In this paper, we instead learn separate intrinsic and extrinsic task policies and schedule between these different drives to accelerate exploration and stabilize learning. Moreover, we introduce a new type of intrinsic reward denoted as successor feature control (SFC), which is general and not task-specific. It takes into account statistics over complete trajectories and thus differs from previous methods that only use local information to evaluate intrinsic motivation. We evaluate our proposed scheduled intrinsic drive (SID) agent using three different environments with pure visual inputs: VizDoom, DeepMind Lab and OpenAI Gym classic control from pixels. The results show a greatly improved exploration efficiency with SFC and the hierarchical usage of the intrinsic drives. A video of our experimental results can be found at

VASE: Variational Assorted Surprise Exploration for Reinforcement Learning Machine Learning

Exploration in environments with continuous control and sparse rewards remains a key challenge in reinforcement learning (RL). Recently, surprise has been used as an intrinsic reward that encourages systematic and efficient exploration. We introduce a new definition of surprise and its RL implementation named Variational Assorted Surprise Exploration (VASE). VASE uses a Bayesian neural network as a model of the environment dynamics and is trained using variational inference, alternately updating the accuracy of the agent's model and policy. Our experiments show that in continuous control sparse reward environments VASE outperforms other surprise-based exploration techniques.

Curiosity-driven Exploration by Self-supervised Prediction Machine Learning

In many real-world scenarios, rewards extrinsic to the agent are extremely sparse, or absent altogether. In such cases, curiosity can serve as an intrinsic reward signal to enable the agent to explore its environment and learn skills that might be useful later in its life. We formulate curiosity as the error in an agent's ability to predict the consequence of its own actions in a visual feature space learned by a self-supervised inverse dynamics model. Our formulation scales to high-dimensional continuous state spaces like images, bypasses the difficulties of directly predicting pixels, and, critically, ignores the aspects of the environment that cannot affect the agent. The proposed approach is evaluated in two environments: VizDoom and Super Mario Bros. Three broad settings are investigated: 1) sparse extrinsic reward, where curiosity allows for far fewer interactions with the environment to reach the goal; 2) exploration with no extrinsic reward, where curiosity pushes the agent to explore more efficiently; and 3) generalization to unseen scenarios (e.g. new levels of the same game) where the knowledge gained from earlier experience helps the agent explore new places much faster than starting from scratch. Demo video and code available at

Curiosity-driven Exploration for Mapless Navigation with Deep Reinforcement Learning Artificial Intelligence

This paper investigates exploration strategies of Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) methods to learn navigation policies for mobile robots. In particular, we augment the normal external reward for training DRL algorithms with intrinsic reward signals measured by curiosity. We test our approach in a mapless navigation setting, where the autonomous agent is required to navigate without the occupancy map of the environment, to targets whose relative locations can be easily acquired through low-cost solutions (e.g., visible light localization, Wi-Fi signal localization). We validate that the intrinsic motivation is crucial for improving DRL performance in tasks with challenging exploration requirements. Our experimental results show that our proposed method is able to more effectively learn navigation policies, and has better generalization capabilities in previously unseen environments. A video of our experimental results can be found at