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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)

Chelsea Finn is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. Finn's research interests lie in the capability of robots and other agents to develop broadly intelligent behavior through learning and interaction. To this end, her work has included deep learning algorithms for concurrently learning visual perception and control in robotic manipulation skills, inverse reinforcement methods for learning reward functions underlying behavior, and meta-learning algorithms that can enable fast, few-shot adaptation in both visual perception and deep reinforcement learning. Finn received her Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and her PhD in Computer Science at UC Berkeley. Her research has been recognized through the ACM doctoral dissertation award, the Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship, the C.V. Ramamoorthy Distinguished Research Award, and the MIT Technology Review 35 under 35 Award, and her work has been covered by various media outlets, including the New York Times, Wired, and Bloomberg. Throughout her career, she has sought to increase the representation of underrepresented minorities within CS and AI by developing an AI outreach camp at Berkeley for underprivileged high school students, a mentoring program for underrepresented undergraduates across four universities, and leading efforts within the WiML and Berkeley WiCSE communities of women researchers.

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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