Keywords: deep reinforcement learning, mapless navigation, context-aware decision-making
TL;DR: We propose a learning-based DRL framework to achieve fast and efficient mapless navigation.
Abstract: Mapless navigation refers to a challenging task where a mobile robot must rapidly navigate to a predefined destination using its partial knowledge of the environment, which is updated online along the way, instead of a prior map of the environment. Inspired by the recent developments in deep reinforcement learning (DRL), we propose a learning-based framework for mapless navigation, which employs a context-aware policy network to achieve efficient decision-making (i.e., maximize the likelihood of finding the shortest route towards the target destination), especially in complex and large-scale environments. Specifically, our robot learns to form a context of its belief over the entire known area, which it uses to reason about long-term efficiency and sequence show-term movements. Additionally, we propose a graph rarefaction algorithm to enable more efficient decision-making in large-scale applications. We empirically demonstrate that our approach reduces average travel time by up to $61.4\%$ and average planning time by up to $88.2\%$ compared to benchmark planners (D*lite and BIT) on hundreds of test scenarios. We also validate our approach both in high-fidelity Gazebo simulations as well as on hardware, highlighting its promising applicability in the real world without further training/tuning.
Student First Author: yes
Supplementary Material: zip
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Poster Spotlight Video: mp4