Automatic Gait Optimization with Gaussian Process Regression

Daniel Lizotte, Tao Wang, Michael Bowling, Dale Schuurmans

Gait optimization is a basic yet challenging problem for both quadrupedal and bipedal robots. Although techniques for automating the process exist, most involve local function optimization procedures that suffer from three key drawbacks. Local optimization techniques are naturally plagued by local optima, make no use of the expensive gait evaluations once a local step is taken, and do not explicitly model noise in gait evaluation. These drawbacks increase the need for a large number of gait evaluations, making optimization slow, data inefficient, and manually intensive. We present a Bayesian approach based on Gaussian process regression that addresses all three drawbacks. It uses a global search strategy based on a posterior model inferred from all of the individual noisy evaluations. We demonstrate the technique on a quadruped robot, using it to optimize two different criteria: speed and smoothness. We show in both cases our technique requires dramatically fewer gait evaluations than state-of-the-art local gradient approaches.