Section: New Results

Deep Reinforcement Learning for Audio-Visual Robot Control

More recently, we investigated the use of reinforcement learning (RL) as an alternative to sensor-based robot control. The robotic task consists of turning the robot head (gaze control) towards speaking people. The method is more general in spirit than visual (or audio) servoing because it can handle an arbitrary number of speaking or non speaking persons and it can improve its behavior online, as the robot experiences new situations. An overview of the proposed method is shown in Fig. 4. The reinforcement learning formulation enables a robot to learn where to look for people and to favor speaking people via a trial-and-error strategy.

Figure 4. Overview of the proposed deep RL method for controlling the gaze of a robot. At each time index t, audio and visual data are represented as binary maps which, together with motor positions, form the set of observations 𝐎t. A motor action At (rotate the head left, right, up, down, or stay still) is selected based on past and present observations via maximization of current and future rewards. The rewards R are based on the number of visible persons as well as on the presence of speech sources in the camera field of view. We use a deep Q-network (DQN) model that can be learned both off-line and on-line. Please consult [39] for further details.

Past, present and future HRI developments require datasets for training, validation, test as well as for benchmarking. HRI datasets are challenging because it is not easy to record realistic interactions between a robot and users. RL avoids systematic recourse to annotated datasets for training. In [39] we proposed the use of a simulated environment for pre-training the RL parameters, thus avoiding spending hours of tedious interaction.

Website: https://team.inria.fr/perception/research/deep-rl-for-gaze-control/.