Keywords: reset-free reinforcement learning, learning from human feedback
Abstract: Ideally, we would place a robot in a real-world environment and leave it there improving on its own by gathering more experience autonomously. However, algorithms for autonomous robotic learning have been challenging to realize in the real world. While this has often been attributed to the challenge of sample complexity, even sample-efficient techniques are hampered by two major challenges - the difficulty of providing well ``shaped" rewards, and the difficulty of continual reset-free training. In this work, we describe a system for real-world reinforcement learning that enables agents to show continual improvement by training directly in the real world without requiring painstaking effort to hand-design reward functions or reset mechanisms. Our system leverages occasional non-expert human-in-the-loop feedback from remote users to learn informative distance functions to guide exploration while leveraging a simple self-supervised learning algorithm for goal-directed policy learning. We show that in the absence of resets, it is particularly important to account for the current ``reachability" of the exploration policy when deciding which regions of the space to explore. Based on this insight, we instantiate a practical learning system - GEAR, which enables robots to simply be placed in real-world environments and left to train autonomously without interruption. The system streams robot experience to a web interface only requiring occasional asynchronous feedback from remote, crowdsourced, non-expert humans in the form of binary comparative feedback. We evaluate this system on a suite of robotic tasks in simulation and demonstrate its effectiveness at learning behaviors both in simulation and the real world. Project website https://guided-exploration-autonomous-rl.github.io/GEAR/.
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