Self-organisation of internal models in autonomous robots
Smith Bize, Simon Cristobal
Internal Models (IMs) play a significant role in autonomous robotics. They are mechanisms able to represent the input-output characteristics of the sensorimotor loop. In developmental robotics, open-ended learning of skills and knowledge serves the purpose of reaction to unexpected inputs, to explore the environment and to acquire new behaviours. The development of the robot includes self-exploration of the state-action space and learning of the environmental dynamics. In this dissertation, we explore the properties and benefits of the self-organisation of robot behaviour based on the homeokinetic learning paradigm. A homeokinetic robot explores the environment in a coherent way without prior knowledge of its configuration or the environment itself. First, we propose a novel approach to self-organisation of behaviour by artificial curiosity in the sensorimotor loop. Second, we study how different forward models settings alter the behaviour of both exploratory and goal-oriented robots. Diverse complexity, size and learning rules are compared to assess the importance in the robot’s exploratory behaviour. We define the self-organised behaviour performance in terms of simultaneous environment coverage and best prediction of future sensori inputs. Among the findings, we have encountered that models with a fast response and a minimisation of the prediction error by local gradients achieve the best performance. Third, we study how self-organisation of behaviour can be exploited to learn IMs for goal-oriented tasks. An IM acquires coherent self-organised behaviours that are then used to achieve high-level goals by reinforcement learning (RL). Our results demonstrate that learning of an inverse model in this context yields faster reward maximisation and a higher final reward. We show that an initial exploration of the environment in a goal-less yet coherent way improves learning. In the same context, we analyse the self-organisation of central pattern generators (CPG) by reward maximisation. Our results show that CPGs can learn favourable reward behaviour on high-dimensional robots using the self-organised interaction between degrees of freedom. Finally, we examine an on-line dual control architecture where we combine an Actor-Critic RL and the homeokinetic controller. With this configuration, the probing signal is generated by the exertion of the embodied robot experience with the environment. This set-up solves the problem of designing task-dependant probing signals by the emergence of intrinsically motivated comprehensible behaviour. Faster improvement of the reward signal compared to classic RL is achievable with this configuration.
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