We study the training performance of ROS local planners based on Reinforcement Learning (RL), and the trajectories they produce on real-world robots. We show that recent enhancements to the Soft Actor Critic (SAC) algorithm such as RAD and DrQ achieve almost perfect training after only 10000 episodes. We also observe that on real-world robots the resulting SACPlanner is more reactive to obstacles than traditional ROS local planners such as DWA.
* Accepted at 2023 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and
We consider the problem of learning the optimal threshold policy for control problems. Threshold policies make control decisions by evaluating whether an element of the system state exceeds a certain threshold, whose value is determined by other elements of the system state. By leveraging the monotone property of threshold policies, we prove that their policy gradients have a surprisingly simple expression. We use this simple expression to build an off-policy actor-critic algorithm for learning the optimal threshold policy. Simulation results show that our policy significantly outperforms other reinforcement learning algorithms due to its ability to exploit the monotone property. In addition, we show that the Whittle index, a powerful tool for restless multi-armed bandit problems, is equivalent to the optimal threshold policy for an alternative problem. This observation leads to a simple algorithm that finds the Whittle index by learning the optimal threshold policy in the alternative problem. Simulation results show that our algorithm learns the Whittle index much faster than several recent studies that learn the Whittle index through indirect means.
Whittle index policy is a powerful tool to obtain asymptotically optimal solutions for the notoriously intractable problem of restless bandits. However, finding the Whittle indices remains a difficult problem for many practical restless bandits with convoluted transition kernels. This paper proposes NeurWIN, a neural Whittle index network that seeks to learn the Whittle indices for any restless bandits by leveraging mathematical properties of the Whittle indices. We show that a neural network that produces the Whittle index is also one that produces the optimal control for a set of Markov decision problems. This property motivates using deep reinforcement learning for the training of NeurWIN. We demonstrate the utility of NeurWIN by evaluating its performance for three recently studied restless bandit problems. Our experiment results show that the performance of NeurWIN is significantly better than other RL algorithms.