Learning Efficient Multi-agent Cooperative Visual Exploration

Chao Yu, Xinyi Yang, Jiaxuan Gao, Huazhong Yang, Yu Wang, Yi Wu ;


"We tackle the problem of cooperative visual exploration where multiple agents need to jointly explore unseen regions as fast as possible based on visual signals. Classical planning-based methods often suffer from expensive computation overhead at each step and a limited expressiveness of complex cooperation strategy. By contrast, reinforcement learning (RL) has recently become a popular paradigm for tackling this challenge due to its modeling capability of arbitrarily complex strategies and minimal inference overhead. In this paper, we propose a novel RL-based multi-agent planning module, Multi-agent Spatial Planner (MSP). MSP leverages a transformer-based architecture, Spatial-TeamFormer, which effectively captures spatial relations and intra-agent interactions via hierarchical spatial self-attentions. In addition, we also implement a few multi-agent enhancements to process local information from each agent for an aligned spatial representation and more precise planning. Finally, we perform policy distillation to extract a meta policy to significantly improve the generalization capability of final policy. We call this overall solution, Multi-Agent Active Neural SLAM (MAANS). MAANS substantially outperforms classical planning-based baselines for the first time in a photo-realistic 3D simulator, Habitat. Code and videos can be found at https://sites.google.com/view/maans."

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