Hardware Efficient Direct Policy Imitation Learning for Robotic Navigation in Resource-Constrained Settings

SENSORS(2024)

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Abstract
Direct policy learning (DPL) is a widely used approach in imitation learning for time-efficient and effective convergence when training mobile robots. However, using DPL in real-world applications is not sufficiently explored due to the inherent challenges of mobilizing direct human expertise and the difficulty of measuring comparative performance. Furthermore, autonomous systems are often resource-constrained, thereby limiting the potential application and implementation of highly effective deep learning models. In this work, we present a lightweight DPL-based approach to train mobile robots in navigational tasks. We integrated a safety policy alongside the navigational policy to safeguard the robot and the environment. The approach was evaluated in simulations and real-world settings and compared with recent work in this space. The results of these experiments and the efficient transfer from simulations to real-world settings demonstrate that our approach has improved performance compared to its hardware-intensive counterparts. We show that using the proposed methodology, the training agent achieves closer performance to the expert within the first 15 training iterations in simulation and real-world settings.
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Key words
imitation learning,direct policy learning,autonomous navigation,mobile robots
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