Get our free extension to see links to code for papers anywhere online!Free extension: code links for papers anywhere!Free add-on: See code for papers anywhere!

Chenlin Ming, Jiacheng Lin, Pangkit Fong, Han Wang, Xiaoming Duan, Jianping He

The integration of Large Language Models (LLMs) into robotics has revolutionized human-robot interactions and autonomous task planning. However, these systems are often unable to self-correct during the task execution, which hinders their adaptability in dynamic real-world environments. To address this issue, we present a Hierarchical Closed-loop Robotic Intelligent Self-correction Planner (HiCRISP), an innovative framework that enables robots to correct errors within individual steps during the task execution. HiCRISP actively monitors and adapts the task execution process, addressing both high-level planning and low-level action errors. Extensive benchmark experiments, encompassing virtual and real-world scenarios, showcase HiCRISP's exceptional performance, positioning it as a promising solution for robotic task planning with LLMs.

Via

Xuechao Zhang, Dong Wang, Sun Han, Weichuang Li, Bin Zhao, Zhigang Wang, Xiaoming Duan, Chongrong Fang, Xuelong Li, Jianping He

Grasping occluded objects in cluttered environments is an essential component in complex robotic manipulation tasks. In this paper, we introduce an AffordanCE-driven Next-Best-View planning policy (ACE-NBV) that tries to find a feasible grasp for target object via continuously observing scenes from new viewpoints. This policy is motivated by the observation that the grasp affordances of an occluded object can be better-measured under the view when the view-direction are the same as the grasp view. Specifically, our method leverages the paradigm of novel view imagery to predict the grasps affordances under previously unobserved view, and select next observation view based on the gain of the highest imagined grasp quality of the target object. The experimental results in simulation and on the real robot demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed affordance-driven next-best-view planning policy. Additional results, code, and videos of real robot experiments can be found in the supplementary materials.

Via

Chendi Qu, Jianping He, Xiaoming Duan, Shukun Wu

Trajectory and control secrecy is an important issue in robotics security. This paper proposes a novel algorithm for the control input inference of a mobile agent without knowing its control objective. Specifically, the algorithm first estimates the target state by applying external perturbations. Then we identify the objective function based on the inverse optimal control, providing the well-posedness proof and the identifiability analysis. Next, we obtain the optimal estimate of the control horizon using binary search. Finally, the agent's control optimization problem is reconstructed and solved to predict its input. Simulation illustrates the efficiency and the performance of the algorithm.

Via

Yash Paliwal, Rajarshi Roy, Jean-Raphaël Gaglione, Nasim Baharisangari, Daniel Neider, Xiaoming Duan, Ufuk Topcu, Zhe Xu

We study a class of reinforcement learning (RL) tasks where the objective of the agent is to accomplish temporally extended goals. In this setting, a common approach is to represent the tasks as deterministic finite automata (DFA) and integrate them into the state-space for RL algorithms. However, while these machines model the reward function, they often overlook the causal knowledge about the environment. To address this limitation, we propose the Temporal-Logic-based Causal Diagram (TL-CD) in RL, which captures the temporal causal relationships between different properties of the environment. We exploit the TL-CD to devise an RL algorithm in which an agent requires significantly less exploration of the environment. To this end, based on a TL-CD and a task DFA, we identify configurations where the agent can determine the expected rewards early during an exploration. Through a series of case studies, we demonstrate the benefits of using TL-CDs, particularly the faster convergence of the algorithm to an optimal policy due to reduced exploration of the environment.

Via

Haoxuan Pan, Deheng Ye, Xiaoming Duan, Qiang Fu, Wei Yang, Jianping He, Mingfei Sun

We revisit the estimation bias in policy gradients for the discounted episodic Markov decision process (MDP) from Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) perspective. The objective is formulated theoretically as the expected returns discounted over the time horizon. One of the major policy gradient biases is the state distribution shift: the state distribution used to estimate the gradients differs from the theoretical formulation in that it does not take into account the discount factor. Existing discussion of the influence of this bias was limited to the tabular and softmax cases in the literature. Therefore, in this paper, we extend it to the DRL setting where the policy is parameterized and demonstrate how this bias can lead to suboptimal policies theoretically. We then discuss why the empirically inaccurate implementations with shifted state distribution can still be effective. We show that, despite such state distribution shift, the policy gradient estimation bias can be reduced in the following three ways: 1) a small learning rate; 2) an adaptive-learning-rate-based optimizer; and 3) KL regularization. Specifically, we show that a smaller learning rate, or, an adaptive learning rate, such as that used by Adam and RSMProp optimizers, makes the policy optimization robust to the bias. We further draw connections between optimizers and the optimization regularization to show that both the KL and the reverse KL regularization can significantly rectify this bias. Moreover, we provide extensive experiments on continuous control tasks to support our analysis. Our paper sheds light on how successful PG algorithms optimize policies in the DRL setting, and contributes insights into the practical issues in DRL.

Via

Yinghan Wang, Hao Jiang, Xiaoming Duan, Jianping He

Most obstacle avoidance algorithms are only effective in specific environments, and they have low adaptability to some new environments. In this paper, we propose a trajectory learning (TL)-based obstacle avoidance algorithm, which can learn implicit obstacle avoidance mechanism from trajectories generated by general obstacle avoidance algorithms and achieves better adaptability. Specifically, we define a general data structure to describe the obstacle avoidance mechanism. Based on this structure, we transform the learning of the obstacle avoidance algorithm into a multiclass classification problem about the direction selection. Then, we design an artificial neural network (ANN) to fit multiclass classification function through supervised learning and finally obtain the obstacle avoidance mechanism that generates the observed trajectories. Our algorithm can obtain the obstacle avoidance mechanism similar to that demonstrated in the trajectories, and are adaptable to unseen environments. The automatic learning mechanism simplifies modification and debugging of obstacle avoidance algorithms in applications. Simulation results demonstrate that the proposed algorithm can learn obstacle avoidance strategy from trajectories and achieve better adaptability.

Via

Xiaoming Duan, Yagiz Savas, Rui Yan, Zhe Xu, Ufuk Topcu

We study the detection problem for a finite set of Markov decision processes (MDPs) where the MDPs have the same state and action spaces but possibly different probabilistic transition functions. Any one of these MDPs could be the model for some underlying controlled stochastic process, but it is unknown a priori which MDP is the ground truth. We investigate whether it is possible to asymptotically detect the ground truth MDP model perfectly based on a single observed history (state-action sequence). Since the generation of histories depends on the policy adopted to control the MDPs, we discuss the existence and synthesis of policies that allow for perfect detection. We start with the case of two MDPs and establish a necessary and sufficient condition for the existence of policies that lead to perfect detection. Based on this condition, we then develop an algorithm that efficiently (in time polynomial in the size of the MDPs) determines the existence of policies and synthesizes one when they exist. We further extend the results to the more general case where there are more than two MDPs in the candidate set, and we develop a policy synthesis algorithm based on the breadth-first search and recursion. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our algorithms through numerical examples.

Via

Zhe Xu, Xiaoming Duan

Pandemics can bring a range of devastating consequences to public health and the world economy. Identifying the most effective control strategies has been the imperative task all around the world. Various public health control strategies have been proposed and tested against pandemic diseases (e.g., COVID-19). We study two specific pandemic control models: the susceptible, exposed, infectious, recovered (SEIR) model with vaccination control; and the SEIR model with shield immunity control. We express the pandemic control requirement in metric temporal logic (MTL) formulas. We then develop an iterative approach for synthesizing the optimal control strategies with MTL specifications. We provide simulation results in two different scenarios for robust control of the COVID-19 pandemic: one for vaccination control, and another for shield immunity control, with the model parameters estimated from data in Lombardy, Italy. The results show that the proposed synthesis approach can generate control inputs such that the time-varying numbers of individuals in each category (e.g., infectious, immune) satisfy the MTL specifications with robustness against initial state and parameter uncertainties.

Via

Xiaoming Duan, Francesco Bullo

This article surveys recent advancements of strategy designs for persistent robotic surveillance tasks with the focus on stochastic approaches. The problem describes how mobile robots stochastically patrol a graph in an efficient way where the efficiency is defined with respect to relevant underlying performance metrics. We first start by reviewing the basics of Markov chains, which is the primary motion model for stochastic robotic surveillance. Then two main criteria regarding the speed and unpredictability of surveillance strategies are discussed. The central objects that appear throughout the treatment is the hitting times of Markov chains, their distributions and expectations. We formulate various optimization problems based on the concerned metrics in different scenarios and establish their respective properties.

Via

Rui Yan, Xiaoming Duan, Zongying Shi, Yisheng Zhong, Jason R. Marden, Francesco Bullo

This paper introduces two metrics (cycle-based and memory-based metrics), grounded on a dynamical game-theoretic solution concept called sink equilibrium, for the evaluation, ranking, and computation of policies in multi-agent learning. We adopt strict best response dynamics (SBRD) to model selfish behaviors at a meta-level for multi-agent reinforcement learning. Our approach can deal with dynamical cyclical behaviors (unlike approaches based on Nash equilibria and Elo ratings), and is more compatible with single-agent reinforcement learning than alpha-rank which relies on weakly better responses. We first consider settings where the difference between largest and second largest underlying metric has a known lower bound. With this knowledge we propose a class of perturbed SBRD with the following property: only policies with maximum metric are observed with nonzero probability for a broad class of stochastic games with finite memory. We then consider settings where the lower bound for the difference is unknown. For this setting, we propose a class of perturbed SBRD such that the metrics of the policies observed with nonzero probability differ from the optimal by any given tolerance. The proposed perturbed SBRD addresses the opponent-induced non-stationarity by fixing the strategies of others for the learning agent, and uses empirical game-theoretic analysis to estimate payoffs for each strategy profile obtained due to the perturbation.

Via