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Jin Cheng, Marin Vlastelica, Pavel Kolev, Chenhao Li, Georg Martius

Despite many successful applications of data-driven control in robotics, extracting meaningful diverse behaviors remains a challenge. Typically, task performance needs to be compromised in order to achieve diversity. In many scenarios, task requirements are specified as a multitude of reward terms, each requiring a different trade-off. In this work, we take a constrained optimization viewpoint on the quality-diversity trade-off and show that we can obtain diverse policies while imposing constraints on their value functions which are defined through distinct rewards. In line with previous work, further control of the diversity level can be achieved through an attract-repel reward term motivated by the Van der Waals force. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our method on a local navigation task where a quadruped robot needs to reach the target within a finite horizon. Finally, our trained policies transfer well to the real 12-DoF quadruped robot, Solo12, and exhibit diverse agile behaviors with successful obstacle traversal.

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Nico Gürtler, Felix Widmaier, Cansu Sancaktar, Sebastian Blaes, Pavel Kolev, Stefan Bauer, Manuel Wüthrich, Markus Wulfmeier, Martin Riedmiller, Arthur Allshire, Qiang Wang, Robert McCarthy, Hangyeol Kim, Jongchan Baek Pohang, Wookyong Kwon, Shanliang Qian, Yasunori Toshimitsu, Mike Yan Michelis, Amirhossein Kazemipour, Arman Raayatsanati, Hehui Zheng, Barnabas Gavin Cangan, Bernhard Schölkopf, Georg Martius

Experimentation on real robots is demanding in terms of time and costs. For this reason, a large part of the reinforcement learning (RL) community uses simulators to develop and benchmark algorithms. However, insights gained in simulation do not necessarily translate to real robots, in particular for tasks involving complex interactions with the environment. The Real Robot Challenge 2022 therefore served as a bridge between the RL and robotics communities by allowing participants to experiment remotely with a real robot - as easily as in simulation. In the last years, offline reinforcement learning has matured into a promising paradigm for learning from pre-collected datasets, alleviating the reliance on expensive online interactions. We therefore asked the participants to learn two dexterous manipulation tasks involving pushing, grasping, and in-hand orientation from provided real-robot datasets. An extensive software documentation and an initial stage based on a simulation of the real set-up made the competition particularly accessible. By giving each team plenty of access budget to evaluate their offline-learned policies on a cluster of seven identical real TriFinger platforms, we organized an exciting competition for machine learners and roboticists alike. In this work we state the rules of the competition, present the methods used by the winning teams and compare their results with a benchmark of state-of-the-art offline RL algorithms on the challenge datasets.

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Nico Gürtler, Sebastian Blaes, Pavel Kolev, Felix Widmaier, Manuel Wüthrich, Stefan Bauer, Bernhard Schölkopf, Georg Martius

Learning policies from previously recorded data is a promising direction for real-world robotics tasks, as online learning is often infeasible. Dexterous manipulation in particular remains an open problem in its general form. The combination of offline reinforcement learning with large diverse datasets, however, has the potential to lead to a breakthrough in this challenging domain analogously to the rapid progress made in supervised learning in recent years. To coordinate the efforts of the research community toward tackling this problem, we propose a benchmark including: i) a large collection of data for offline learning from a dexterous manipulation platform on two tasks, obtained with capable RL agents trained in simulation; ii) the option to execute learned policies on a real-world robotic system and a simulation for efficient debugging. We evaluate prominent open-sourced offline reinforcement learning algorithms on the datasets and provide a reproducible experimental setup for offline reinforcement learning on real systems.

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Marin Vlastelica, Pavel Kolev, Jin Cheng, Georg Martius

There has been significant recent progress in the area of unsupervised skill discovery, with various works proposing mutual information based objectives, as a source of intrinsic motivation. Prior works predominantly focused on designing algorithms that require online access to the environment. In contrast, we develop an \textit{offline} skill discovery algorithm. Our problem formulation considers the maximization of a mutual information objective constrained by a KL-divergence. More precisely, the constraints ensure that the state occupancy of each skill remains close to the state occupancy of an expert, within the support of an offline dataset with good state-action coverage. Our main contribution is to connect Fenchel duality, reinforcement learning and unsupervised skill discovery, and to give a simple offline algorithm for learning diverse skills that are aligned with an expert.

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Giorgia Ramponi, Pavel Kolev, Olivier Pietquin, Niao He, Mathieu Laurière, Matthieu Geist

We explore the problem of imitation learning (IL) in the context of mean-field games (MFGs), where the goal is to imitate the behavior of a population of agents following a Nash equilibrium policy according to some unknown payoff function. IL in MFGs presents new challenges compared to single-agent IL, particularly when both the reward function and the transition kernel depend on the population distribution. In this paper, departing from the existing literature on IL for MFGs, we introduce a new solution concept called the Nash imitation gap. Then we show that when only the reward depends on the population distribution, IL in MFGs can be reduced to single-agent IL with similar guarantees. However, when the dynamics is population-dependent, we provide a novel upper-bound that suggests IL is harder in this setting. To address this issue, we propose a new adversarial formulation where the reinforcement learning problem is replaced by a mean-field control (MFC) problem, suggesting progress in IL within MFGs may have to build upon MFC.

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Pavel Kolev, Georg Martius, Michael Muehlebach

In many applications, learning systems are required to process continuous non-stationary data streams. We study this problem in an online learning framework and propose an algorithm that can deal with adversarial time-varying and nonlinear constraints. As we show in our work, the algorithm called Constraint Violation Velocity Projection (CVV-Pro) achieves $\sqrt{T}$ regret and converges to the feasible set at a rate of $1/\sqrt{T}$, despite the fact that the feasible set is slowly time-varying and a priori unknown to the learner. CVV-Pro only relies on local sparse linear approximations of the feasible set and therefore avoids optimizing over the entire set at each iteration, which is in sharp contrast to projected gradients or Frank-Wolfe methods. We also empirically evaluate our algorithm on two-player games, where the players are subjected to a shared constraint.

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Chenhao Li, Sebastian Blaes, Pavel Kolev, Marin Vlastelica, Jonas Frey, Georg Martius

Learning diverse skills is one of the main challenges in robotics. To this end, imitation learning approaches have achieved impressive results. These methods require explicitly labeled datasets or assume consistent skill execution to enable learning and active control of individual behaviors, which limits their applicability. In this work, we propose a cooperative adversarial method for obtaining single versatile policies with controllable skill sets from unlabeled datasets containing diverse state transition patterns by maximizing their discriminability. Moreover, we show that by utilizing unsupervised skill discovery in the generative adversarial imitation learning framework, novel and useful skills emerge with successful task fulfillment. Finally, the obtained versatile policies are tested on an agile quadruped robot called Solo 8 and present faithful replications of diverse skills encoded in the demonstrations.

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Vincenzo Bonifaci, Enrico Facca, Frederic Folz, Andreas Karrenbauer, Pavel Kolev, Kurt Mehlhorn, Giovanna Morigi, Golnoosh Shahkarami, Quentin Vermande

In wet-lab experiments \cite{Nakagaki-Yamada-Toth,Tero-Takagi-etal}, the slime mold Physarum polycephalum has demonstrated its ability to solve shortest path problems and to design efficient networks, see Figure \ref{Wet-Lab Experiments} for illustrations. Physarum polycephalum is a slime mold in the Mycetozoa group. For the shortest path problem, a mathematical model for the evolution of the slime was proposed in \cite{Tero-Kobayashi-Nakagaki} and its biological relevance was argued. The model was shown to solve shortest path problems, first in computer simulations and then by mathematical proof. It was later shown that the slime mold dynamics can solve more general linear programs and that many variants of the dynamics have similar convergence behavior. In this paper, we introduce a dynamics for the network design problem. We formulate network design as the problem of constructing a network that efficiently supports a multi-commodity flow problem. We investigate the dynamics in computer simulations and analytically. The simulations show that the dynamics is able to construct efficient and elegant networks. In the theoretical part we show that the dynamics minimizes an objective combining the cost of the network and the cost of routing the demands through the network. We also give alternative characterization of the optimum solution.

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