Multi-task Learning with Gradient Guided Policy Specialization

23 Sep 2017  ·  Wenhao Yu, C. Karen Liu, Greg Turk ·

We present a method for efficient learning of control policies for multiple related robotic motor skills. Our approach consists of two stages, joint training and specialization training... During the joint training stage, a neural network policy is trained with minimal information to disambiguate the motor skills. This forces the policy to learn a common representation of the different tasks. Then, during the specialization training stage we selectively split the weights of the policy based on a per-weight metric that measures the disagreement among the multiple tasks. By splitting part of the control policy, it can be further trained to specialize to each task. To update the control policy during learning, we use Trust Region Policy Optimization with Generalized Advantage Function (TRPOGAE). We propose a modification to the gradient update stage of TRPO to better accommodate multi-task learning scenarios. We evaluate our approach on three continuous motor skill learning problems in simulation: 1) a locomotion task where three single legged robots with considerable difference in shape and size are trained to hop forward, 2) a manipulation task where three robot manipulators with different sizes and joint types are trained to reach different locations in 3D space, and 3) locomotion of a two-legged robot, whose range of motion of one leg is constrained in different ways. We compare our training method to three baselines. The first baseline uses only joint training for the policy, the second trains independent policies for each task, and the last randomly selects weights to split. We show that our approach learns more efficiently than each of the baseline methods. read more

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