Tag Archives: Robot Navigation

Real-time approach to POMDPs for robot navigation

P. Cai and D. Hsu, Closing the Planning\u2013Learning Loop With Application to Autonomous Driving, IEEE Transactions on Robotics, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 998-1011, April 2023 DOI: 10.1109/TRO.2022.3210767.

Real-time planning under uncertainty is critical for robots operating in complex dynamic environments. Consider, for example, an autonomous robot vehicle driving in dense, unregulated urban traffic of cars, motorcycles, buses, etc. The robot vehicle has to plan in both short and long terms, in order to interact with many traffic participants of uncertain intentions and drive effectively. Planning explicitly over a long time horizon, however, incurs prohibitive computational cost and is impractical under real-time constraints. To achieve real-time performance for large-scale planning, this work introduces a new algorithm Learning from Tree Search for Driving (LeTS-Drive), which integrates planning and learning in a closed loop, and applies it to autonomous driving in crowded urban traffic in simulation. Specifically, LeTS-Drive learns a policy and its value function from data provided by an online planner, which searches a sparsely sampled belief tree; the online planner in turn uses the learned policy and value functions as heuristics to scale up its run-time performance for real-time robot control. These two steps are repeated to form a closed loop so that the planner and the learner inform each other and improve in synchrony. The algorithm learns on its own in a self-supervised manner, without human effort on explicit data labeling. Experimental results demonstrate that LeTS-Drive outperforms either planning or learning alone, as well as open-loop integration of planning and learning.

On the extended use of RL for navigation in UAVs

Fadi AlMahamid, Katarina Grolinger, Autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle navigation using Reinforcement Learning: A systematic review, Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence, Volume 115, 2022 DOI: 10.1016/j.engappai.2022.105321.

There is an increasing demand for using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), known as drones, in different applications such as packages delivery, traffic monitoring, search and rescue operations, and military combat engagements. In all of these applications, the UAV is used to navigate the environment autonomously \u2014 without human interaction, perform specific tasks and avoid obstacles. Autonomous UAV navigation is commonly accomplished using Reinforcement Learning (RL), where agents act as experts in a domain to navigate the environment while avoiding obstacles. Understanding the navigation environment and algorithmic limitations plays an essential role in choosing the appropriate RL algorithm to solve the navigation problem effectively. Consequently, this study first identifies the main UAV navigation tasks and discusses navigation frameworks and simulation software. Next, RL algorithms are classified and discussed based on the environment, algorithm characteristics, abilities, and applications in different UAV navigation problems, which will help the practitioners and researchers select the appropriate RL algorithms for their UAV navigation use cases. Moreover, identified gaps and opportunities will drive UAV navigation research.

Hierarchical RL with diverse methods integrated in the framework

Ye Zhou, Hann Woei Ho, Online robot guidance and navigation in non-stationary environment with hybrid Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning, Engineering Applications of Artificial Intelligence, Volume 114, 2022 DOI: 10.1016/j.engappai.2022.105152.

Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning (HRL) provides an option to solve complex guidance and navigation problems with high-dimensional spaces, multiple objectives, and a large number of states and actions. The current HRL methods often use the same or similar reinforcement learning methods within one application so that multiple objectives can be easily combined. Since there is not a single learning method that can benefit all targets, hybrid Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning (hHRL) was proposed to use various methods to optimize the learning with different types of information and objectives in one application. The previous hHRL method, however, requires manual task-specific designs, which involves engineers\u2019 preferences and may impede its transfer learning ability. This paper, therefore, proposes a systematic online guidance and navigation method under the framework of hHRL, which generalizes training samples with a function approximator, decomposes the state space automatically, and thus does not require task-specific designs. The simulation results indicate that the proposed method is superior to the previous hHRL method, which requires manual decomposition, in terms of the convergence rate and the learnt policy. It is also shown that this method is generally applicable to non-stationary environments changing over episodes and over time without the loss of efficiency even with noisy state information.

Survey of machine learning applied to robot navigation, including a brief survey of classic navigation

Xiao, X., Liu, B., Warnell, G. et al. Motion planning and control for mobile robot navigation using machine learning: a survey, Auton Robot 46, 569\u2013597 (2022) DOI: 10.1007/s10514-022-10039-8.

Moving in complex environments is an essential capability of intelligent mobile robots. Decades of research and engineering have been dedicated to developing sophisticated navigation systems to move mobile robots from one point to another. Despite their overall success, a recently emerging research thrust is devoted to developing machine learning techniques to address the same problem, based in large part on the success of deep learning. However, to date, there has not been much direct comparison between the classical and emerging paradigms to this problem. In this article, we survey recent works that apply machine learning for motion planning and control in mobile robot navigation, within the context of classical navigation systems. The surveyed works are classified into different categories, which delineate the relationship of the learning approaches to classical methods. Based on this classification, we identify common challenges and promising future directions.

Modifications of Q-learning for better learning of robot navigation

Ee Soong Low, Pauline Ong, Cheng Yee Low, Rosli Omar, Modified Q-learning with distance metric and virtual target on path planning of mobile robot, Expert Systems with Applications, Volume 199, 2022, DOI: 10.1016/j.eswa.2022.117191.

Path planning is an essential element in mobile robot navigation. One of the popular path planners is Q-learning \u2013 a type of reinforcement learning that learns with little or no prior knowledge of the environment. Despite the successful implementation of Q-learning reported in numerous studies, its slow convergence associated with the curse of dimensionality may limit the performance in practice. To solve this problem, an Improved Q-learning (IQL) with three modifications is introduced in this study. First, a distance metric is added to Q-learning to guide the agent moves towards the target. Second, the Q function of Q-learning is modified to overcome dead-ends more effectively. Lastly, the virtual target concept is introduced in Q-learning to bypass dead-ends. Experimental results across twenty types of navigation maps show that the proposed strategies accelerate the learning speed of IQL in comparison with the Q-learning. Besides, performance comparison with seven well-known path planners indicates its efficiency in terms of the path smoothness, time taken, shortest distance and total distance used.

A nice summary of RL applied to robot navigation

N. Khlif, N. Khraief and S. Belghith, Reinforcement Learning for Mobile Robot Navigation: An overview IEEE Information Technologies & Smart Industrial Systems (ITSIS), Paris, France, 2022, pp. 1-7 DOI: 10.1109/ITSIS56166.2022.10118362.

For several years, research shows that interest in autonomous mobile robots is increasing and it has more and more grown. Autonomous mobile robots is an object of discussion but nowadays it’s an emerging topic due to the all progress related to field like autonomous driving and UAV (drones). Integrating intelligence into robotic systems requires solving various research problems, including one of the most important problems of mobile robotic systems: navigation. Find the answers to the following three questions: What is the localisation of the robot? Where are the robot going? How can it get there? presenting the solution of mobile robot navigation problem. These questions are answered by basic navigation parts which are localization, mapping and path planning. The paper present an overview of research on autonomous mobile robot navigation. First, a quick introduction to the various features of navigation. We also discuss machine learning and reinforcement learning in mobile robotics. Furthermore, we will discuss some path planning techniques. Some future directions are also suggested.

Mixing rule-based and reinforcement learning navigation for robots

Y. Zhu, Z. Wang, C. Chen and D. Dong, Rule-Based Reinforcement Learning for Efficient Robot Navigation With Space Reduction, IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 846-857, April 2022 DOI: 10.1109/TMECH.2021.3072675.

For real-world deployments, it is critical to allow robots to navigate in complex environments autonomously. Traditional methods usually maintain an internal map of the environment, and then design several simple rules, in conjunction with a localization and planning approach, to navigate through the internal map. These approaches often involve a variety of assumptions and prior knowledge. In contrast, recent reinforcement learning (RL) methods can provide a model-free, self-learning mechanism as the robot interacts with an initially unknown environment, but are expensive to deploy in real-world scenarios due to inefficient exploration. In this article, we focus on efficient navigation with the RL technique and combine the advantages of these two kinds of methods into a rule-based RL (RuRL) algorithm for reducing the sample complexity and cost of time. First, we use the rule of wall-following to generate a closed-loop trajectory. Second, we employ a reduction rule to shrink the trajectory, which in turn effectively reduces the redundant exploration space. Besides, we give the detailed theoretical guarantee that the optimal navigation path is still in the reduced space. Third, in the reduced space, we utilize the Pledge rule to guide the exploration strategy for accelerating the RL process at the early stage. Experiments conducted on real robot navigation problems in hex-grid environments demonstrate that RuRL can achieve improved navigation performance.

Discrete Q-learning used, along a Deep CNN for localization, for mobile robot navigation

Amirhossein Shantia, Rik Timmers, Yiebo Chong, Cornel Kuiper, Francesco Bidoia, Lambert Schomaker, Marco Wiering, Two-stage visual navigation by deep neural networks and multi-goal reinforcement learning, . Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Volume 138, 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.robot.2021.103731.

In this paper, we propose a two-stage learning framework for visual navigation in which the experience of the agent during exploration of one goal is shared to learn to navigate to other goals. We train a deep neural network for estimating the robot’s position in the environment using ground truth information provided by a classical localization and mapping approach. The second simpler multi-goal Q-function learns to traverse the environment by using the provided discretized map. Transfer learning is applied to the multi-goal Q-function from a maze structure to a 2D simulator and is finally deployed in a 3D simulator where the robot uses the estimated locations from the position estimator deep network. In the experiments, we first compare different architectures to select the best deep network for location estimation, and then compare the effects of the multi-goal reinforcement learning method to traditional reinforcement learning. The results show a significant improvement when multi-goal reinforcement learning is used. Furthermore, the results of the location estimator show that a deep network can learn and generalize in different environments using camera images with high accuracy in both position and orientation.

Learning the parameters of a robot navigator through Q-learning

Chang, L., Shan, L., Jiang, C. et al, Reinforcement based mobile robot path planning with improved dynamic window approach in unknown environment, . Auton Robot 45, 51–76 (2021) DOI: 10.1007/s10514-020-09947-4.

Mobile robot path planning in an unknown environment is a fundamental and challenging problem in the field of robotics. Dynamic window approach (DWA) is an effective method of local path planning, however some of its evaluation functions are inadequate and the algorithm for choosing the weights of these functions is lacking, which makes it highly dependent on the global reference and prone to fail in an unknown environment. In this paper, an improved DWA based on Q-learning is proposed. First, the original evaluation functions are modified and extended by adding two new evaluation functions to enhance the performance of global navigation. Then, considering the balance of effectiveness and speed, we define the state space, action space and reward function of the adopted Q-learning algorithm for the robot motion planning. After that, the parameters of the proposed DWA are adaptively learned by Q-learning and a trained agent is obtained to adapt to the unknown environment. At last, by a series of comparative simulations, the proposed method shows higher navigation efficiency and successful rate in the complex unknown environment. The proposed method is also validated in experiments based on XQ-4 Pro robot to verify its navigation capability in both static and dynamic environment.

Deep learning RL methods for robot navigation

Luong, M., Pham, C., Incremental Learning for Autonomous Navigation of Mobile Robots based on Deep Reinforcement Learning, . J Intell Robot Syst 101, 1 (2021) DOI: 10.1007/s10846-020-01262-5.

This paper presents an incremental learning method and system for autonomous robot navigation. The range finder laser sensor and online deep reinforcement learning are utilized for generating the navigation policy, which is effective for avoiding obstacles along the robot’s trajectories as well as for robot’s reaching the destination. An empirical experiment is conducted under simulation and real-world settings. Under the simulation environment, the results show that the proposed method can generate a highly effective navigation policy (more than 90% accuracy) after only 150k training iterations. Moreover, our system has slightly outperformed deep-Q, while having considerably surpassed Proximal Policy Optimization, two recent state-of-the art robot navigation systems. Finally, two experiments are performed to demonstrate the feasibility and effectiveness of our robot’s proposed navigation system in real-time under real-world settings.