Goal-Guided Transformer-Enabled Reinforcement Learning for Efficient Autonomous Navigation

Despite some successful applications of goal-driven navigation, existing deep reinforcement learning (DRL)-based approaches notoriously suffers from poor data efficiency issue. One of the reasons is that the goal information is decoupled from the perception module and directly introduced as a condition of decision-making, resulting in the goal-irrelevant features of the scene representation playing an adversary role during the learning process. In light of this, we present a novel Goal-guided Transformer-enabled reinforcement learning (GTRL) approach by considering the physical goal states as an input of the scene encoder for guiding the scene representation to couple with the goal information and realizing efficient autonomous navigation. More specifically, we propose a novel variant of the Vision Transformer as the backbone of the perception system, namely Goal-guided Transformer (GoT), and pre-train it with expert priors to boost the data efficiency. Subsequently, a reinforcement learning algorithm is instantiated for the decision-making system, taking the goal-oriented scene representation from the GoT as the input and generating decision commands. As a result, our approach motivates the scene representation to concentrate mainly on goal-relevant features, which substantially enhances the data efficiency of the DRL learning process, leading to superior navigation performance. Both simulation and real-world experimental results manifest the superiority of our approach in terms of data efficiency, performance, robustness, and sim-to-real generalization, compared with other state-of-the-art (SOTA) baselines. The demonstration video ( and the source code ( are also provided.

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