Cross-modal Domain Adaptation for Cost-Efficient Visual Reinforcement Learning

In visual-input sim-to-real scenarios, to overcome the reality gap between images rendered in simulators and those from the real world, domain adaptation, i.e., learning an aligned representation space between simulators and the real world, then training and deploying policies in the aligned representation, is a promising direction. Previous methods focus on same-modal domain adaptation. However, those methods require building and running simulators that render high-quality images, which can be difficult and costly. In this paper, we consider a more cost-efficient setting of visual-input sim-to-real where only low-dimensional states are simulated. We first point out that the objective of learning mapping functions in previous methods that align the representation spaces is ill-posed, prone to yield an incorrect mapping. When the mapping crosses modalities, previous methods are easier to fail. Our algorithm, Cross-mOdal Domain Adaptation with Sequential structure (CODAS), mitigates the ill-posedness by utilizing the sequential nature of the data sampling process in RL tasks. Experiments on MuJoCo and Hand Manipulation Suite tasks show that the agents deployed with our method achieve similar performance as it has in the source domain, while those deployed with previous methods designed for same-modal domain adaptation suffer a larger performance gap.

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