Towards Real-World Navigation With Deep Differentiable Planners

Shu Ishida, João F. Henriques; Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), 2022, pp. 17327-17336


We train embodied neural networks to plan and navigate unseen complex 3D environments, emphasising real-world deployment. Rather than requiring prior knowledge of the agent or environment, the planner learns to model the state transitions and rewards. To avoid the potentially hazardous trial-and-error of reinforcement learning, we focus on differentiable planners such as Value Iteration Networks (VIN), which are trained offline from safe expert demonstrations. Although they work well in small simulations, we address two major limitations that hinder their deployment. First, we observed that current differentiable planners struggle to plan long-term in environments with a high branching complexity. While they should ideally learn to assign low rewards to obstacles to avoid collisions, these penalties are not strong enough to guarantee collision-free operation. We thus impose a structural constraint on the value iteration, which explicitly learns to model impossible actions and noisy motion. Secondly, we extend the model to plan exploration with a limited perspective camera under translation and fine rotations, which is crucial for real robot deployment. Our proposals significantly improve semantic navigation and exploration on several 2D and 3D environments, succeeding in settings that are otherwise challenging for differentiable planners. As far as we know, we are the first to successfully apply them to the difficult Active Vision Dataset, consisting of real images captured from a robot.

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@InProceedings{Ishida_2022_CVPR, author = {Ishida, Shu and Henriques, Jo\~ao F.}, title = {Towards Real-World Navigation With Deep Differentiable Planners}, booktitle = {Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR)}, month = {June}, year = {2022}, pages = {17327-17336} }