Chance-Constrained Trajectory Optimization for Safe Exploration and Learning of Nonlinear Systems

9 May 2020  ·  Yashwanth Kumar Nakka, Anqi Liu, Guanya Shi, Anima Anandkumar, Yisong Yue, Soon-Jo Chung ·

Learning-based control algorithms require data collection with abundant supervision for training. Safe exploration algorithms ensure the safety of this data collection process even when only partial knowledge is available. We present a new approach for optimal motion planning with safe exploration that integrates chance-constrained stochastic optimal control with dynamics learning and feedback control. We derive an iterative convex optimization algorithm that solves an \underline{Info}rmation-cost \underline{S}tochastic \underline{N}onlinear \underline{O}ptimal \underline{C}ontrol problem (Info-SNOC). The optimization objective encodes control cost for performance and exploration cost for learning, and the safety is incorporated as distributionally robust chance constraints. The dynamics are predicted from a robust regression model that is learned from data. The Info-SNOC algorithm is used to compute a sub-optimal pool of safe motion plans that aid in exploration for learning unknown residual dynamics under safety constraints. A stable feedback controller is used to execute the motion plan and collect data for model learning. We prove the safety of rollout from our exploration method and reduction in uncertainty over epochs, thereby guaranteeing the consistency of our learning method. We validate the effectiveness of Info-SNOC by designing and implementing a pool of safe trajectories for a planar robot. We demonstrate that our approach has higher success rate in ensuring safety when compared to a deterministic trajectory optimization approach.

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