Continuous then discrete: A recommendation for building robotic brainsDownload PDF

Published: 01 Oct 2021, Last Modified: 05 May 2023CoRL 2021, Blue SkyReaders: Everyone
Keywords: Continuous representations, Neuromorphics, Learning
Abstract: Modern neural networks have allowed substantial advances in robotics, but these algorithms make implicit assumptions about the discretization of time. In this document we argue that there are benefits to be gained, especially in robotics, by designing learning algorithms that exist in continuous time, as well as state, and only later discretizing the algorithms for implementation on traditional computing models, or mapping them directly onto analog hardware. We survey four arguments to support this approach: That continuum representations provide a unified theory of functions for robotic systems; That many algorithms formulated as temporally continuous demonstrate anytime properties; That we can exploit temporal sparsity to effect energy efficiency in both traditional and analog hardware; and that these algorithms reflect the instantiations of intelligence that have evolved in organisms. Further, we present learning algorithms that are derived from continuous representations. Finally, we discuss robotic precedents for this approach, and conclude with the implications of using continuum representations in robotic systems.
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