Keywords: Curriculum RL, Morphology Evolution
Abstract: Throughout long history, natural species have learned to survive by evolving their physical structures adaptive to the environment changes. In contrast, current reinforcement learning (RL) studies mainly focus on training an agent with a fixed morphology (e.g., skeletal structure and joint attributes) in a fixed environment, which can hardly generalize to changing environments or new tasks. In this paper, we optimize an RL agent and its morphology through ''morphology-environment co-evolution (MECE)'', in which the morphology keeps being updated to adapt to the changing environment, while the environment is modified progressively to bring new challenges and stimulate the improvement of the morphology. This leads to a curriculum to train generalizable RL, whose morphology and policy are optimized for different environments. Instead of hand-crafting the curriculum, we train two policies to automatically change the morphology and the environment. To this end, (1) we develop two novel and effective rewards for the two policies, which are solely based on the learning dynamics of the RL agent; (2) we design a scheduler to automatically determine when to change the environment and the morphology. We find these two designs are critical to the success of MECE, as verified by extensive ablation studies. In experiments on two classes of tasks, the morphology and RL policies trained via MECE exhibit significantly better generalization performance in unseen test environments than SOTA morphology optimization methods. Our ablation studies on the two MECE policies further show that the co-evolution between the morphology and environment is the key to the success.
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