Explore to see, learn to perceive, get the actions for free: SKILLABILITY

Varan R. Kompella, Marijn F. Stollenga, Matthew D. Luciw, Juergen Schmidhuber

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

9 Scopus citations


How can a humanoid robot autonomously learn and refine multiple sensorimotor skills as a byproduct of curiosity driven exploration, upon its high-dimensional unprocessed visual input? We present SKILLABILITY, which makes this possible. It combines the recently introduced Curiosity Driven Modular Incremental Slow Feature Analysis (Curious Dr. MISFA) with the well-known options framework. Curious Dr. MISFA's objective is to acquire abstractions as quickly as possible. These abstractions map high-dimensional pixel-level vision to a low-dimensional manifold. We find that each learnable abstraction augments the robot's state space (a set of poses) with new information about the environment, for example, when the robot is grasping a cup. The abstraction is a function on an image, called a slow feature, which can effectively discretize a high-dimensional visual sequence. For example, it maps the sequence of the robot watching its arm as it moves around, grasping randomly, then grasping a cup, and moving around some more while holding the cup, into a step function having two outputs: when the cup is or is not currently grasped. The new state space includes this grasped/not grasped information. Each abstraction is coupled with an option. The reward function for the option's policy (learned through Least Squares Policy Iteration) is high for transitions that produce a large change in the step-functionlike slow features. This corresponds to finding bottleneck states, which are known good subgoals for hierarchical reinforcement learning in the example, the subgoal corresponds to grasping the cup. The final skill includes both the learned policy and the learned abstraction. SKILLABILITY makes our iCub the first humanoid robot to learn complex skills such as to topple or grasp an object, from raw high-dimensional video input, driven purely by its intrinsic motivations.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the International Joint Conference on Neural Networks
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781479914845
StatePublished - Sep 3 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Generated from Scopus record by KAUST IRTS on 2022-09-14


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