Causal Navigation by Continuous-time Neural Networks

Charles Vorbach · Ramin Hasani · Alexander Amini · Mathias Lechner · Daniela Rus

Keywords: [ Reinforcement Learning and Planning ] [ Deep Learning ] [ Causality ]

[ Abstract ]
Thu 9 Dec 8:30 a.m. PST — 10 a.m. PST


Imitation learning enables high-fidelity, vision-based learning of policies within rich, photorealistic environments. However, such techniques often rely on traditional discrete-time neural models and face difficulties in generalizing to domain shifts by failing to account for the causal relationships between the agent and the environment. In this paper, we propose a theoretical and experimental framework for learning causal representations using continuous-time neural networks, specifically over their discrete-time counterparts. We evaluate our method in the context of visual-control learning of drones over a series of complex tasks, ranging from short- and long-term navigation, to chasing static and dynamic objects through photorealistic environments. Our results demonstrate that causal continuous-time deep models can perform robust navigation tasks, where advanced recurrent models fail. These models learn complex causal control representations directly from raw visual inputs and scale to solve a variety of tasks using imitation learning.

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