A Hybrid Spiking Neural Network Reinforcement Learning Agent for Energy-Efficient Object Manipulation

Due to the wide spread of robotics technologies in everyday activities, from industrial automation to domestic assisted living applications, cutting-edge techniques such as deep reinforcement learning are intensively investigated with the aim to advance the technological robotics front. The mandatory limitation of power consumption remains an open challenge in contemporary robotics, especially in real-case applications. Spiking neural networks (SNN) constitute an ideal compromise as a strong computational tool with low-power capacities. This paper introduces a spiking neural network actor for a baseline robotic manipulation task using a dual-finger gripper. To achieve that, we used a hybrid deep deterministic policy gradient (DDPG) algorithm designed with a spiking actor and a deep critic network to train the robotic agent. Thus, the agent learns to obtain the optimal policies for the three main tasks of the robotic manipulation approach: target-object reach, grasp, and transfer. The proposed method has one of the main advantages that an SNN possesses, namely, its neuromorphic hardware implementation capacity that results in energy-efficient implementations. The latter accomplishment is highly demonstrated in the evaluation results of the SNN actor since the deep critic network was exploited only during training. Aiming to further display the capabilities of the introduced approach, we compare our model with the well-established DDPG algorithm.

Katerina Maria Oikonomou, Ioannis Kansizoglou, Antonios Gasteratos

Publication Date
January 24th, 2023

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