Hierarchical Apprenticeship Learning with Application to Quadruped Locomotion

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 20 (NIPS 2007)

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J. Kolter, Pieter Abbeel, Andrew Ng


We consider apprenticeship learning—learning from expert demonstrations—in the setting of large, complex domains. Past work in apprenticeship learning requires that the expert demonstrate complete trajectories through the domain. However, in many problems even an expert has difficulty controlling the system, which makes this approach infeasible. For example, consider the task of teach- ing a quadruped robot to navigate over extreme terrain; demonstrating an optimal policy (i.e., an optimal set of foot locations over the entire terrain) is a highly non-trivial task, even for an expert. In this paper we propose a method for hier- archical apprenticeship learning, which allows the algorithm to accept isolated advice at different hierarchical levels of the control task. This type of advice is often feasible for experts to give, even if the expert is unable to demonstrate com- plete trajectories. This allows us to extend the apprenticeship learning paradigm to much larger, more challenging domains. In particular, in this paper we apply the hierarchical apprenticeship learning algorithm to the task of quadruped loco- motion over extreme terrain, and achieve, to the best of our knowledge, results superior to any previously published work.