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Workshop: Deep Reinforcement Learning Workshop

MoDem: Accelerating Visual Model-Based Reinforcement Learning with Demonstrations

Nicklas Hansen · Yixin Lin · Hao Su · Xiaolong Wang · Vikash Kumar · Aravind Rajeswaran


Poor sample efficiency continues to be the primary challenge for deployment of deep Reinforcement Learning (RL) algorithms for real-world applications, and in particular for visuo-motor control. Model-based RL has the potential to be highly sample efficient by concurrently learning a world model and using synthetic rollouts for planning and policy improvement. However, in practice, sample-efficient learning with model-based RL is bottlenecked by the exploration challenge. In this work, we find that leveraging just a handful of demonstrations can dramatically improve the sample-efficiency of model-based RL. Simply appending demonstrations to the interaction dataset, however, does not suffice. We identify key ingredients for leveraging demonstrations in model learning -- policy pretraining, targeted exploration, and oversampling of demonstration data -- which forms the three phases of our model-based RL framework. We empirically study three complex visuo-motor control domains and find that our method is 160%-250%more successful in completing sparse reward tasks compared to prior approaches in the low data regime (100K interaction steps, 5 demonstrations).

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