Abstract: In this paper we address the challenge of exploration in deep reinforcement learning for robotic manipulation tasks. In sparse goal settings, an agent does not receive any positive feedback until randomly achieving the goal, which becomes infeasible for longer control sequences. Inspired by touch-based exploration observed in children, we formulate an intrinsic reward based on the sum of forces between a robot's force sensors and manipulation objects that encourages physical interaction. Furthermore, we introduce contact-prioritized experience replay, a sampling scheme that prioritizes contact rich episodes and transitions. We show that our solution accelerates the exploration and outperforms state-of-the-art methods on three fundamental robot manipulation benchmarks.
Authors: Nikola Vulin, Sammy Christen, Stefan Stevsic, Otmar Hilliges (ETH Zurich)