Grid Cell-Inspired Fragmentation and Recall for Efficient Map Building

Published: 08 Jul 2024, Last Modified: 08 Jul 2024Accepted by TMLREveryoneRevisionsBibTeXCC BY-SA 4.0
Abstract: Animals and robots navigate through environments by building and refining maps of space. These maps enable functions including navigation back to home, planning, search and foraging. Here, we use observations from neuroscience, specifically the observed fragmentation of grid cell map in compartmentalized spaces, to propose and apply the concept of Fragmentation-and-Recall (FARMap) in the mapping of large spaces. Agents solve the mapping problem by building local maps via a surprisal-based clustering of space, which they use to set subgoals for spatial exploration. Agents build and use a local map to predict their observations; high surprisal leads to a "fragmentation event" that truncates the local map. At these events, the recent local map is placed into long-term memory (LTM) and a different local map is initialized. If observations at a fracture point match observations in one of the stored local maps, that map is recalled (and thus reused) from LTM. The fragmentation points induce a natural online clustering of the larger space, forming a set of intrinsic potential subgoals that are stored in LTM as a topological graph. Agents choose their next subgoal from the set of near and far potential subgoals from within the current local map or LTM, respectively. Thus, local maps guide exploration locally, while LTM promotes global exploration. We demonstrate that FARMap replicates the fragmentation points observed in animal studies. We evaluate FARMap on complex procedurally-generated spatial environments and realistic simulations to demonstrate that this mapping strategy much more rapidly covers the environment (number of agent steps and wall clock time) and is more efficient in active memory usage, without loss of performance.
Certifications: Featured Certification
Submission Length: Regular submission (no more than 12 pages of main content)
Assigned Action Editor: ~Andrew_Kyle_Lampinen1
Submission Number: 2484