Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning for Quadruped Locomotion

Research paper by Deepali Jain, Atil Iscen, Ken Caluwaerts

Indexed on: 30 Nov '19Published on: 21 May '19Published in: arXiv - Computer Science - Learning


Legged locomotion is a challenging task for learning algorithms, especially when the task requires a diverse set of primitive behaviors. To solve these problems, we introduce a hierarchical framework to automatically decompose complex locomotion tasks. A high-level policy issues commands in a latent space and also selects for how long the low-level policy will execute the latent command. Concurrently, the low-level policy uses the latent command and only the robot's on-board sensors to control the robot's actuators. Our approach allows the high-level policy to run at a lower frequency than the low-level one. We test our framework on a path-following task for a dynamic quadruped robot and we show that steering behaviors automatically emerge in the latent command space as low-level skills are needed for this task. We then show efficient adaptation of the trained policy to a different task by transfer of the trained low-level policy. Finally, we validate the policies on a real quadruped robot. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first application of end-to-end hierarchical learning to a real robotic locomotion task.