Abstract: We humans can impeccably search for a target object, given its name only, even in an unseen environment. We argue that this ability is largely due to three main reasons: the incorporation of prior knowledge (or experience), the adaptation of it to the new environment using the observed visual cues and most importantly optimistically searching without giving up early. This is currently missing in the state-of-the-art visual navigation methods based on Reinforcement Learning (RL). In this paper, we propose to use externally learned prior knowledge of the relative object locations and integrate it into our model by constructing a neural graph. In order to efficiently incorporate the graph without increasing the state-space complexity, we propose our Graph-based Value Estimation (GVE) module. GVE provides a more accurate baseline for estimating the Advantage function in actor-critic RL algorithm. This results in reduced value estimation error and, consequently, convergence to a more optimal policy. Through empirical studies, we show that our agent, dubbed as the optimistic agent, has a more realistic estimate of the state value during a navigation episode which leads to a higher success rate. Our extensive ablation studies show the efficacy of our simple method which achieves the state-of-the-art results measured by the conventional visual navigation metrics, e.g. Success Rate (SR) and Success weighted by Path Length (SPL), in AI2THOR environment.
Authors: Mahdi Kazemi Moghaddam, Qi Wu, Ehsan Abbasnejad, Javen Qinfeng Shi (University of Adelaide)