Hierarchical and Stable Multiagent Reinforcement Learning for Cooperative Navigation Control

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We solve an important and challenging cooperative navigation control problem, Multiagent Navigation to Unassigned Multiple targets (MNUM) in unknown environments with minimal time and without collision. Conventional methods are based on multiagent path planning that requires building an environment map and expensive real-time path planning computations. In this article, we formulate MNUM as a stochastic game and devise a novel multiagent deep reinforcement learning (MADRL) algorithm to learn an end-to-end solution, which directly maps raw sensor data to control signals. Once learned, the policy can be deployed onto each agent, and thereby, the expensive online planning computations can be offloaded. However, to solve MNUM, traditional MADRL suffers from large policy solution space and nonstationary environment when agents make decisions independently and concurrently. Accordingly, we propose a hierarchical and stable MADRL algorithm. The hierarchical learning part introduces a two-layer policy model to reduce the solution space and uses an interlaced learning paradigm to learn two coupled policies. In the stable learning part, we propose to learn an extended action-value function that implicitly incorporates estimations of other agents' actions, based on which the environment's nonstationarity caused by other agents' changing policies can be alleviated. Extensive experiments demonstrate that our method can converge in a fast way and generate more efficient cooperative navigation policies than comparable methods.

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IEEE Transactions on Neural Networks and Learning Systems

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