Department of Computer Science and Technology

Technical reports

Efficient memory-based learning for robot control

Andrew William Moore

November 1990, 248 pages

This technical report is based on a dissertation submitted October 1990 by the author for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the University of Cambridge, Trinity Hall.


This dissertation is about the application of machine learning to robot control. A system which has no initial model of the robot/world dynamics should be able to construct such a model using data received through its sensors—an approach which is formalized here as the SAB (State-Action-Behaviour) control cycle. A method of learning is presented in which all the experiences in the lifetime of the robot are explicitly remembered. The experiences are stored in a manner which permits fast recall of the closest previous experience to any new situation, thus permitting very quick predictions of the effects of proposed actions and, given a goal behaviour, permitting fast generation of a candidate action. The learning can take place in high-dimensional non-linear control spaces with real-valued ranges of variables. Furthermore, the method avoids a number of shortcomings of earlier learning methods in which the controller can become trapped in inadequate performance which does not improve. Also considered is how the system is made resistant to noisy inputs and how it adapts to environmental changes. A well founded mechanism for choosing actions is introduced which solves the experiment/perform dilemma for this domain with adequate computational efficiency, and with fast convergence to the goal behaviour. The dissertation explains in detail how the SAB control cycle can be integrated into both low and high complexity tasks. The methods and algorithms are evaluated with numerous experiments using both real and simulated robot domains. The final experiment also illustrates how a compound learning task can be structured into a hierarchy of simple learning tasks.

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BibTeX record

  author =	 {Moore, Andrew William},
  title = 	 {{Efficient memory-based learning for robot control}},
  year = 	 1990,
  month = 	 nov,
  url = 	 {},
  institution =  {University of Cambridge, Computer Laboratory},
  number = 	 {UCAM-CL-TR-209}