Keywords: Quality-Diversity, Hardware Acceleration, Robotics
Abstract: Quality-Diversity (QD) algorithms are a well-known approach to generate large collections of diverse and high-quality policies. However, QD algorithms are also known to be data-inefficient, requiring large amounts of computational resources and are slow when used in practice for robotics tasks. Policy evaluations are already commonly performed in parallel to speed up QD algorithms but have limited capabilities on a single machine as most physics simulators run on CPUs. With recent advances in simulators that run on accelerators, thousands of evaluations can performed in parallel on single GPU/TPU. In this paper, we present QDax, an implementation of MAP-Elites which leverages massive parallelism on accelerators to make QD algorithms more accessible. We first demonstrate the improvements on the number of evaluations per second that parallelism using accelerated simulators can offer. More importantly, we show that QD algorithms are ideal candidates and can scale with massive parallelism to be run at interactive timescales. The increase in parallelism does not significantly affect the performance of QD algorithms, while reducing experiment runtimes by two factors of magnitudes, turning days of computation into minutes. These results show that QD can now benefit from hardware acceleration, which contributed significantly to the bloom of deep learning.