Robots are envisioned to bring improved efficiency and quality to many aspects of our daily lives. Examples include autonomous driving, drone delivery, and service robots. The decision-making in robotic systems often faces various sources of uncertainties (e.g., incomplete sensory information, uncertainties in the environment, interaction with other agents). As data- and learning-based methods continue to gain traction, we must understand how to leverage them in real-world robotic systems in a safe and robust manner to avoid costly hardware failures and/or allow for deployments in the proximity of human operators. Addressing the safety challenges in real-world deployment will require cross-field collaboration. Our goal is to facilitate enduring interdisciplinary partnerships and build a community fostering the advancement of safe robot autonomy research.
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Review Paper and Simulation Benchmark
Review Paper on Safe Learning in Robotics
Abstract: As data- and learning-based methods gain traction, researchers must also understand how to leverage them in real-world robotic systems, where implementing and guaranteeing safety is imperative—to avoid costly hardware failures and allow deployment in the proximity of human operators. The last half-decade has seen a steep rise in the number of contributions to this area from both the control and reinforcement learning communities. Our goal is to provide a concise but holistic review of the recent advances made in safe learning control. We aim to demystify and unify the language and frameworks used in control theory and reinforcement learning research. To facilitate fair comparisons between these fields, we emphasize the need for realistic physics-based benchmarks. Our review includes learning-based control approaches that safely improve performance by learning the uncertain dynamics, reinforcement learning approaches that encourage safety or robustness, and methods that can formally certify the safety of a learned control policy.
Simulation Benchmark for Safe Robot Learning
Abstract: In recent years, reinforcement learning and learning-based control—as well as the study of their safety, crucial for deployment in real-world robots—have gained significant traction. However, to adequately gauge the progress and applicability of new results, we need the tools to equitably compare the approaches proposed by the controls and reinforcement learning communities. Here, we propose a new open-source benchmark suite, called safe-control-gym. Our starting point is OpenAI’s Gym API, which is one of the de facto standard in reinforcement learning research. Yet, we highlight the reasons for its limited appeal to control theory researchers—and safe control, in particular. E.g., the lack of analytical models and constraint specifications. Thus, we propose to extend this API with (i) the ability to specify (and query) symbolic models and constraints and (ii) introduce simulated disturbances in the control inputs, measurements, and inertial properties. We provide implementations for three dynamic systems—the cart-pole, 1D, and 2D quadrotor—and two control tasks—stabilization and trajectory tracking. To demonstrate our proposal—and in an attempt to bring research communities closer together—we show how to use safe-control-gym to quantitatively compare the control performance, data efficiency, and safety of multiple approaches from the areas of traditional control, learning-based control, and reinforcement learning.
Safe Real-World Robot Autonomy
Interdisciplinary Discussion on Requirements, Approaches, and Benchmarks for Safe Real-World Robot Autonomy.
Talks and Discussions
Angela Schoellig, “Machine Learning for Robotics: Achieving Safety, Performance and Reliability by Combining Models and Data in a Closed-Loop System Architecture“, Intersections between Control, Learning and Optimization 2020
Angela Schoellig, “Safe Learning-based Control Using Gaussian Processes“, IFAC World Congress 2020
Invited Sessions on Learning-Based Control, CDC 2016-present