Research on Robotics
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Navigating fluently around pedestrians is a necessary capability for mobile robots deployed in human environments, such as office buildings and homes. While related literature has addressed the co-navigation problem focused on the scalability with the number of pedestrians in open spaces, typical indoor environments present the additional challenge of constrained spaces such as corridors, doorways and crosswalks that limit maneuverability and influence patterns of pedestrian interaction. We present an approach based on reinforcement learning to learn policies capable of dynamic adaptation to the presence of moving pedestrians while navigating between desired locations in constrained environments. The policy network receives guidance from a motion planner that provides waypoints to follow a globally planned trajectory, whereas the reinforcement component handles the local interactions. We explore a compositional principle for multi-layout training and find that policies trained in a small set of geometrically simple layouts successfully generalize to unseen and more complex layouts that exhibit composition of the simple structural elements available during training. Going beyond wall-world like domains, we show transfer of the learned policy to unseen 3D reconstructions of two real environments (market, home). These results support the applicability of the compositional principle to real-world environments and indicate promising usage of agent simulation within reconstructed environments for tasks that involve interaction.
The second half of this recent talk at the MIT Embodied Intelligence Seminar (Feb 2021) covers this paper: