An Approximate Inference Approach to Temporal Optimization in Optimal Control

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 23 (NIPS 2010)

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Konrad Rawlik, Marc Toussaint, Sethu Vijayakumar


Algorithms based on iterative local approximations present a practical approach to optimal control in robotic systems. However, they generally require the temporal parameters (for e.g. the movement duration or the time point of reaching an intermediate goal) to be specified \textit{a priori}. Here, we present a methodology that is capable of jointly optimising the temporal parameters in addition to the control command profiles. The presented approach is based on a Bayesian canonical time formulation of the optimal control problem, with the temporal mapping from canonical to real time parametrised by an additional control variable. An approximate EM algorithm is derived that efficiently optimises both the movement duration and control commands offering, for the first time, a practical approach to tackling generic via point problems in a systematic way under the optimal control framework. The proposed approach is evaluated on simulations of a redundant robotic plant.