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Workshop: Deep Reinforcement Learning

Learning Efficient Multi-Agent Cooperative Visual Exploration

Chao Yu · Jiaxuan Gao · Huazhong Yang · Yu Wang · Yi Wu


We consider the task of visual indoor exploration with multiple agents, where the agents need to cooperatively explore the entire indoor region using as few steps as possible. Classical planning-based methods often suffer from particularly expensive computation at each inference step and a limited expressiveness of cooperation strategy. By contrast, reinforcement learning (RL) has become a trending paradigm for tackling this challenge due to its modeling capability of arbitrarily complex strategies and minimal inference overhead. We extend the state-of-the-art single-agent RL solution, Active Neural SLAM (ANS), to the multi-agent setting by introducing a novel RL-based global-goal planner, Spatial Coordination Planner (SCP), which leverages spatial information from each individual agent in an end-to-end manner and effectively guides the agents to navigate towards different spatial goals with high exploration efficiency. SCP consists of a transformer-based relation encoder to capture intra-agent interactions and a spatial action decoder to produce accurate goals. In addition, we also implement a few multi-agent enhancements to process local information from each agent for an aligned spatial representation and more precise local planning. Our final solution, Multi-Agent Active Neural SLAM (MAANS), combines all these techniques and substantially outperforms 4 different planning-based methods and various RL baselines in the photo-realistic physical testbed, Habitat.

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