Error-Based Learning Mechanism for Fast Online Adaptation in Robot Motor Control

Mathias Thor*, Poramate Manoonpong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Existing state-of-the-art frequency adaptation mechanisms of central pattern generators (CPGs) for robot locomotion control typically rely on correlation-based learning. They do not account for the tracking error that may occur between the actual system motion and CPG output, leading to the loss of precision, unwanted movement, inefficient energy locomotion, and in the worst cases, motor collapse. To overcome this problem, we developed online error-based learning for frequency adaptation of CPGs. The learning mechanism used for error reduction is a novel modification of the dual learner (DL) called dual integral learner (DIL). Being able to reduce tracking and steady-state errors, it can also perform fast and stable learning, adapting the CPG frequency to match the performance of robotic systems. Control parameters of the DIL are more straightforward for complex systems (like walking robots), compared to traditional correlation-based learning, since they correspond to error reduction. Due to its embedded memory, the DIL can relearn quickly and recover spontaneously from the previously learned parameters. All these features are not covered by the existing frequency adaptation mechanisms. We integrated the DIL into a neural CPG-based motor control system for use on different legged robots with various morphologies for evaluation. The results show that: 1) the DIL does not require precise adjustment of its parameters to fit specific robots; and 2) the DIL can automatically and quickly adapt the CPG frequency to the robots such that the entire trajectory of the CPG can be precisely followed with very low tracking and steady-state errors. Consequently, the robots can perform the desired movements with more energy-efficient locomotion compared to the state-of-the-art correlation-based learning mechanism called frequency adaptation through fast dynamical coupling (AFDC). In the future, the proposed error-based learning mechanism for fast online adaptation in robot motor control can be used as a basis for trajectory optimization, universal controllers, and other studies concerning the change of intrinsic or extrinsic parameters.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Networks and Learning Systems
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)2042-2051
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


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