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Poster
Cautious Adaptation For Reinforcement Learning in Safety-Critical Settings
Jesse Zhang · Brian Cheung · Chelsea Finn · Sergey Levine · Dinesh Jayaraman

Wed Jul 15 08:00 AM -- 08:45 AM & Wed Jul 15 09:00 PM -- 09:45 PM (PDT) @ Virtual #None

Reinforcement learning (RL) in real-world safety-critical target settings like urban driving is hazardous, imperiling the RL agent, other agents, and the environment. To overcome this difficulty, we propose a "safety-critical adaptation" task setting: an agent first trains in non-safety-critical "source" environments such as in a simulator, before it adapts to the target environment where failures carry heavy costs. We propose a solution approach, CARL, that builds on the intuition that prior experience in diverse environments equips an agent to estimate risk, which in turn enables relative safety through risk-averse, cautious adaptation. CARL first employs model-based RL to train a probabilistic model to capture uncertainty about transition dynamics and catastrophic states across varied source environments. Then, when exploring a new safety-critical environment with unknown dynamics, the CARL agent plans to avoid actions that could lead to catastrophic states. In experiments on car driving, cartpole balancing, and half-cheetah locomotion, CARL successfully acquires cautious exploration behaviors, yielding higher rewards with fewer failures than strong RL adaptation baselines.

Author Information

Jesse Zhang (UC Berkeley)
Brian Cheung (UC Berkeley)
Chelsea Finn (Stanford)
Sergey Levine (UC Berkeley)
Sergey Levine

Sergey Levine received a BS and MS in Computer Science from Stanford University in 2009, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University in 2014. He joined the faculty of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley in fall 2016. His work focuses on machine learning for decision making and control, with an emphasis on deep learning and reinforcement learning algorithms. Applications of his work include autonomous robots and vehicles, as well as computer vision and graphics. His research includes developing algorithms for end-to-end training of deep neural network policies that combine perception and control, scalable algorithms for inverse reinforcement learning, deep reinforcement learning algorithms, and more.

Dinesh Jayaraman (University of Pennsylvania)

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