How to reduce computation time while sparing performance during robot navigation? A neuro-inspired architecture for autonomous shifting between model-based and model-free learning

Rémi Dromnelle, Erwan Renaudo, Guillaume Pourcel, Raja Chatila, Benoît Girard, Mehdi Khamassi

Taking inspiration from how the brain coordinates multiple learning systems is an appealing strategy to endow robots with more flexibility. One of the expected advantages would be for robots to autonomously switch to the least costly system when its performance is satisfying. However, to our knowledge no study on a real robot has yet shown that the measured computational cost is reduced while performance is maintained with such brain-inspired algorithms. We present navigation experiments involving paths of different lengths to the goal, dead-end, and non-stationarity (i.e., change in goal location and apparition of obstacles). We present a novel arbitration mechanism between learning systems that explicitly measures performance and cost. We find that the robot can adapt to environment changes by switching between learning systems so as to maintain a high performance. Moreover, when the task is stable, the robot also autonomously shifts to the least costly system, which leads to a drastic reduction in computation cost while keeping a high performance. Overall, these results illustrates the interest of using multiple learning systems.

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