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Deep Hierarchical Planning from Pixels
Danijar Hafner · Kuang-Huei Lee · Ian Fischer · Pieter Abbeel

Tue Nov 29 02:00 PM -- 04:00 PM (PST) @ Hall J #521

Intelligent agents need to select long sequences of actions to solve complex tasks. While humans easily break down tasks into subgoals and reach them through millions of muscle commands, current artificial intelligence is limited to tasks with horizons of a few hundred decisions, despite large compute budgets. Research on hierarchical reinforcement learning aims to overcome this limitation but has proven to be challenging, current methods rely on manually specified goal spaces or subtasks, and no general solution exists. We introduce Director, a practical method for learning hierarchical behaviors directly from pixels by planning inside the latent space of a learned world model. The high-level policy maximizes task and exploration rewards by selecting latent goals and the low-level policy learns to achieve the goals. Despite operating in latent space, the decisions are interpretable because the world model can decode goals into images for visualization. Director learns successful behaviors across a wide range of environments, including visual control, Atari games, and DMLab levels and outperforms exploration methods on tasks with very sparse rewards, including 3D maze traversal with a quadruped robot from an egocentric camera and proprioception, without access to the global position or top-down view used by prior work.

Author Information

Danijar Hafner (Google)
Kuang-Huei Lee (Google Research)
Ian Fischer (Google)
Pieter Abbeel (UC Berkeley & Covariant)

Pieter Abbeel is Professor and Director of the Robot Learning Lab at UC Berkeley [2008- ], Co-Director of the Berkeley AI Research (BAIR) Lab, Co-Founder of covariant.ai [2017- ], Co-Founder of Gradescope [2014- ], Advisor to OpenAI, Founding Faculty Partner AI@TheHouse venture fund, Advisor to many AI/Robotics start-ups. He works in machine learning and robotics. In particular his research focuses on making robots learn from people (apprenticeship learning), how to make robots learn through their own trial and error (reinforcement learning), and how to speed up skill acquisition through learning-to-learn (meta-learning). His robots have learned advanced helicopter aerobatics, knot-tying, basic assembly, organizing laundry, locomotion, and vision-based robotic manipulation. He has won numerous awards, including best paper awards at ICML, NIPS and ICRA, early career awards from NSF, Darpa, ONR, AFOSR, Sloan, TR35, IEEE, and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). Pieter's work is frequently featured in the popular press, including New York Times, BBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, Wired, Forbes, Tech Review, NPR.

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