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Learning control in robotics – trajectory-based opitimal control techniques




In a not too distant future, robots will be a natural part of daily life in human society, providing assistance in many areas ranging from clinical applications, education and care giving, to normal household environments [1]. It is hard to imagine that all possible tasks can be preprogrammed in such robots. Robots need to be able to learn, either by themselves or with the help of human supervision. Additionally, wear and tear on robots in daily use needs to be automatically compensated for, which requires a form of continuous self-calibration, another form of learning. Finally, robots need to react to stochastic and dynamic environments, i.e., they need to learn how to optimally adapt to uncertainty and unforeseen changes. Robot learning is going to be a key ingredient for the future of autonomous robots. While robot learning covers a rather large field, from learning to perceive, to plan, to make decisions, etc., we will focus this review on topics of learning control, in particular, as it is concerned with learning control in simulated or actual physical robots. In general, learning control refers to the process of acquiring a control strategy for a particular control system and a particular task by trial and error. Learning control is usually distinguished from adaptive control [2] in that the learning system can have rather general optimization objectivesâ??not just, e.g., minimal tracking errorâ??and is permitted to fail during the process of learning, while adaptive control emphasizes fast convergence without failure. Thus, learning control resembles the way that humans and animals acquire new movement strategies, while adaptive control is a special case of learning control that fulfills stringent performance constraints, e.g., as needed in life-critical systems like airplanes. Learning control has been an active topic of research for at least three decades. However, given the lack of working robots that actually use learning components, more work needs to be done before robot learning will make it beyond the laboratory environment. This article will survey some ongoing and past activities in robot learning to assess where the field stands and where it is going. We will largely focus on nonwheeled robots and less on topics of state estimation, as typically explored in wheeled robots [3]â??6], and we emphasize learning in continuous state-action spaces rather than discrete state-action spaces [7], [8]. We will illustrate the different topics of robot learning with examples from our own research with anthropomorphic and humanoid robots.

Author(s): Schaal, S. and Atkeson, C. G.
Book Title: Robotics and Automation Magazine
Volume: 17
Number (issue): 2
Pages: 20-29
Year: 2010

Department(s): Autonomous Motion
Bibtex Type: Article (article)

Cross Ref: p10415
Note: clmc
URL: http://www-clmc.usc.edu/publications/S/schaal-RAM2010.pdf


  title = {Learning control in robotics -- trajectory-based opitimal control techniques},
  author = {Schaal, S. and Atkeson, C. G.},
  booktitle = {Robotics and Automation Magazine},
  volume = {17},
  number = {2},
  pages = {20-29},
  year = {2010},
  note = {clmc},
  crossref = {p10415},
  url = {http://www-clmc.usc.edu/publications/S/schaal-RAM2010.pdf}