Colloquium Cognitive Systems

Self-organization of behavior in autonomous robot development

Dr. Georg Martius, group leader Autonomous Learning Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems Tübingen


Abstract. I am studying the question how robots can autonomously develop skills. Considering children, it seems natural that they have their own agenda. They explore their environment in a playful way, without the necessity for somebody to tell them what to do next. With robots the situation is different. There are many methods to let robots learn to
do something, but it is always about learning to do a specific task from a supervision signal. Unfortunately, these methods do not scale well to systems with many degrees of freedom, except a good prestructuring is available.  The hypothesis is that if the robots first learn to use their bodies and interact with the environment in a playful way they can acquire many small skills with which they can later solve complicated tasks much quicker. In the talk I will present my steps into this direction. Starting from some general information theoretic consideration we provide robots with an own drive to do something and explore their behavioral capabilities. Technically, this is achieved by considering the sensorimotor loop as a dynamical system, whose parameters are adapted online according to a gradient ascent on an approximated information quantity.  I'll show examples of simulated and real robots behaving in a self-determined way and present future directions.

Bio. Georg Martius is currently building up a research group on Autonomous Learning at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen. Before joining the MPI in Tübingen, he was a postdoc fellow at the IST Austria in the groups of Christoph Lampert and Gašper Tkačik after being a postdoc at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences in Leipzig. He persues research in autonomous learning, that is how an embodied agent can determine what to learn, how to learn, and how to judge the learning success. He is using information theory and dynamical systems theory to formulate generic intrinsic motivations that lead to coherent behavior exploration – much like playful behavior. Recently, he is also working on machine learning methods particularly suitable for internal models and learning from sequences. Together with Ralf Der he published the book called "The Playful Machine".