Guiding Trajectory Optimization by Demonstrated Distributions

Takayuki Osa, Amir Masoud Ghalamzan Esfahani, Rustam Stolkin, Rudolf Lioutikov , Jan Peters, Gerhard Neumann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Trajectory optimization is an essential tool for motion planning under multiple constraints of robotic manipulators. Optimization-based methods can explicitly optimize a trajectory by leveraging prior knowledge of the system and have been used in various applications such as collision avoidance. However, these methods often require a hand-coded cost function in order to achieve the desired behavior. Specifying such cost function for a complex desired behavior, e.g., disentangling a rope, is a nontrivial task that is often even infeasible. Learning from demonstration (LfD) methods offer an alternative way to program robot motion. LfD methods are less dependent on analytical models and instead learn the behavior of experts implicitly from the demonstrated trajectories. However, the problem of adapting the demonstrations to new situations, e.g., avoiding newly introduced obstacles, has not been fully investigated in the literature. In this letter, we present a motion planning framework that combines the advantages of optimization-based and demonstration-based methods. We learn a distribution of trajectories demonstrated by human experts and use it to guide the trajectory optimization process. The resulting trajectory maintains the demonstrated behaviors, which are essential to performing the task successfully, while adapting the trajectory to avoid obstacles. In simulated experiments and with a real robotic system, we verify that our approach optimizes the trajectory to avoid obstacles and encodes the demonstrated behavior in the resulting trajectory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)819-826
JournalIEEE Robotics and Automation Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2017


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