Motion planning and reactive control on learnt skill manifolds
We propose a novel framework for motion planning and control that is based on a manifold encoding of the desired solution set. We present an alternate, model-free, approach to path planning, replanning and control. Our approach is founded on the idea of encoding the set of possible trajectories as a skill manifold, which can be learnt from data such as from demonstration. We describe the manifold representation of skills, a technique for learning from data and a method for generating trajectories as geodesics on such manifolds. We extend the trajectory generation method to handle dynamic obstacles and constraints. We show how a state metric naturally arises from the manifold encoding and how this can be used for reactive control in an on-line manner. Our framework tightly integrates learning, planning and control in a computationally efficient representation, suitable for realistic humanoid robotic tasks that are defined by skill specifications involving high-dimensional nonlinear dynamics, kinodynamic constraints and non-trivial cost functions, in an optimal control setting. Although, in principle, such problems can be handled by well understood analytical methods, it is often difficult and expensive to formulate models that enable the analytical approach. We test our framework with various types of robotic systems – ranging from a 3-link arm to a small humanoid robot – and show that the manifold encoding gives significant improvements in performance without loss of accuracy. Furthermore, we evaluate the framework against a state-of-the-art imitation learning method. We show that our approach, by learning manifolds of robotic skills, allows for efficient planning and replanning in changing environments, and for robust and online reactive control.
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