A Hybrid Reinforcement Learning Approach With a Spiking Actor Network for Efficient Robotic Arm Target Reaching

The increasing demand for applications in competitive fields, such as assisted living and aerial robots, drives contemporary research into the development, implementation and integration of power-constrained solutions. Although, deep neural networks (DNNs) have achieved remarkable performances in many robotics applications, energy consumption remains a major limitation. The paper at hand proposes a hybrid variation of the well-established deep deterministic policy gradient (DDPG) reinforcement learning approach to train a 6 degree of freedom robotic arm in the target-reach task. In particular, we introduce a spiking neural network (SNN) for the actor model and a DNN for the critic one, aiming to find an optimal set of actions for the robot. The deep critic network is employed only during training and discarded afterwards, allowing the deployment of the SNN in neuromorphic hardware for inference. The agent is supported by a combination of RGB and laser scan data exploited for collision avoidance and object detection. We compare the hybrid-DDPG model against a classic DDPG one, demonstrating the superiority of our approach.

Katerina Maria Oikonomou, Ioannis Kansizoglou, Antonios Gasteratos

IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Publication Date
April 5th, 2023

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