Research papers and code for "Nicholas C. Landolfi":
Autonomous cars can perform poorly for many reasons. They may have perception issues, incorrect dynamics models, be unaware of obscure rules of human traffic systems, or follow certain rules too conservatively. Regardless of the exact failure mode of the car, often human drivers around the car are behaving correctly. For example, even if the car does not know that it should pull over when an ambulance races by, other humans on the road will know and will pull over. We propose to make socially cohesive cars that leverage the behavior of nearby human drivers to act in ways that are safer and more socially acceptable. The simple intuition behind our algorithm is that if all the humans are consistently behaving in a particular way, then the autonomous car probably should too. We analyze the performance of our algorithm in a variety of scenarios and conduct a user study to assess people's attitudes towards socially cohesive cars. We find that people are surprisingly tolerant of mistakes that cohesive cars might make in order to get the benefits of driving in a car with a safer, or even just more socially acceptable behavior.

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The aim of multi-task reinforcement learning is two-fold: (1) efficiently learn by training against multiple tasks and (2) quickly adapt, using limited samples, to a variety of new tasks. In this work, the tasks correspond to reward functions for environments with the same (or similar) dynamical models. We propose to learn a dynamical model during the training process and use this model to perform sample-efficient adaptation to new tasks at test time. We use significantly fewer samples by performing policy optimization only in a "virtual" environment whose transitions are given by our learned dynamical model. Our algorithm sequentially trains against several tasks. Upon encountering a new task, we first warm-up a policy on our learned dynamical model, which requires no new samples from the environment. We then adapt the dynamical model with samples from this policy in the real environment. We evaluate our approach on several continuous control benchmarks and demonstrate its efficacy over MAML, a state-of-the-art meta-learning algorithm, on these tasks.

* 13 pages, 3 figures
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Our goal is to accurately and efficiently learn reward functions for autonomous robots. Current approaches to this problem include inverse reinforcement learning (IRL), which uses expert demonstrations, and preference-based learning, which iteratively queries the user for her preferences between trajectories. In robotics however, IRL often struggles because it is difficult to get high-quality demonstrations; conversely, preference-based learning is very inefficient since it attempts to learn a continuous, high-dimensional function from binary feedback. We propose a new framework for reward learning, DemPref, that uses both demonstrations and preference queries to learn a reward function. Specifically, we (1) use the demonstrations to learn a coarse prior over the space of reward functions, to reduce the effective size of the space from which queries are generated; and (2) use the demonstrations to ground the (active) query generation process, to improve the quality of the generated queries. Our method alleviates the efficiency issues faced by standard preference-based learning methods and does not exclusively depend on (possibly low-quality) demonstrations. In numerical experiments, we find that DemPref is significantly more efficient than a standard active preference-based learning method. In a user study, we compare our method to a standard IRL method; we find that users rated the robot trained with DemPref as being more successful at learning their desired behavior, and preferred to use the DemPref system (over IRL) to train the robot.

* Presented at RSS 2019
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