Stella X. Yu : Papers / Google Scholar

Unsupervised Visual Attention and Invariance for Reinforcement Learning
Xudong Wang and Long Lian and Stella X. Yu
IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, Online, 19-25 June 2021
Paper | Slides | Code | arXiv


Vision-based reinforcement learning (RL) is successful, but how to generalize it to unknown test environments remains challenging. Existing methods focus on training an RL policy that is universal to changing visual domains, whereas we focus on extracting visual foreground that is universal, feeding clean invariant vision to the RL policy learner. Our method is completely unsupervised, without manual annotations or access to environment internals.

Given videos of actions in a training environment, we learn how to extract foregrounds with unsupervised keypoint detection, followed by unsupervised visual attention to automatically generate a foreground mask per video frame. We can then introduce artificial distractors and train a model to reconstruct the clean foreground mask from noisy observations. Only this learned model is needed during test to provide distraction-free visual input to the RL policy learner.

Our Visual Attention and Invariance (VAI) method significantly outperforms the state-of-the-art on visual domain generalization, gaining 15$\sim$49\% (61$\sim$229\%) more cumulative rewards per episode on DeepMind Control (our DrawerWorld Manipulation) benchmarks. Our results demonstrate that it is not only possible to learn domain-invariant vision without any supervision, but freeing RL from visual distractions also makes the policy more focused and thus far better.

unsupervised keypoint detection, unsupervised visual attention, unsupervised foreground extraction, vision-based reinforcement learning