Learning to Walk: Spike Based Reinforcement Learning for Hexapod Robot Central Pattern Generation

22 Mar 2020  ·  Ashwin Sanjay Lele, Yan Fang, Justin Ting, Arijit Raychowdhury ·

Learning to walk -- i.e., learning locomotion under performance and energy constraints continues to be a challenge in legged robotics. Methods such as stochastic gradient, deep reinforcement learning (RL) have been explored for bipeds, quadrupeds and hexapods. These techniques are computationally intensive and often prohibitive for edge applications. These methods rely on complex sensors and pre-processing of data, which further increases energy and latency. Recent advances in spiking neural networks (SNNs) promise a significant reduction in computing owing to the sparse firing of neuros and has been shown to integrate reinforcement learning mechanisms with biologically observed spike time dependent plasticity (STDP). However, training a legged robot to walk by learning the synchronization patterns of central pattern generators (CPG) in an SNN framework has not been shown. This can marry the efficiency of SNNs with synchronized locomotion of CPG based systems providing breakthrough end-to-end learning in mobile robotics. In this paper, we propose a reinforcement based stochastic weight update technique for training a spiking CPG. The whole system is implemented on a lightweight raspberry pi platform with integrated sensors, thus opening up exciting new possibilities.

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