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Policy Search for Motor Primitives in Robotics
Jens Kober · Jan Peters

Tue Dec 09 07:30 PM -- 12:00 AM (PST) @

Many motor skills in humanoid robotics can be learned using parametrized motor primitives as done in imitation learning. However, most interesting motor learning problems are high-dimensional reinforcement learning problems often beyond the reach of current methods. In this paper, we extend previous work on policy learning from the immediate reward case to episodic reinforcement learning. We show that this results into a general, common framework also connected to policy gradient methods and yielding a novel algorithm for policy learning by assuming a form of exploration that is particularly well-suited for dynamic motor primitives. The resulting algorithm is an EM-inspired algorithm applicable in complex motor learning tasks. We compare this algorithm to alternative parametrized policy search methods and show that it outperforms previous methods. We apply it in the context of motor learning and show that it can learn a complex Ball-in-a-Cup task using a real Barrett WAM robot arm.

Author Information

Jens Kober (Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics)
Jan Peters (TU Darmstadt & DFKI)

Jan Peters is a full professor (W3) for Intelligent Autonomous Systems at the Computer Science Department of the Technische Universitaet Darmstadt and at the same time a senior research scientist and group leader at the Max-Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems, where he heads the interdepartmental Robot Learning Group. Jan Peters has received the Dick Volz Best 2007 US PhD Thesis Runner-Up Award, the Robotics: Science & Systems - Early Career Spotlight, the INNS Young Investigator Award, and the IEEE Robotics & Automation Society‘s Early Career Award as well as numerous best paper awards. In 2015, he was awarded an ERC Starting Grant. Jan Peters has studied Computer Science, Electrical, Mechanical and Control Engineering at TU Munich and FernUni Hagen in Germany, at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the University of Southern California (USC). He has received four Master‘s degrees in these disciplines as well as a Computer Science PhD from USC.

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