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Learning to navigate without a map (but with instructions)

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Navigation is an important cognitive task that enables humans and animals to traverse, with or without maps, over long distances in the complex world. Such long-range navigation can simultaneously support self-localisation (“I am here”) and a representation of the goal (“I am going there”). For this reason, studying navigation is fundamental to the study and development of artificial intelligence, and trying to replicate navigation in artificial agents can also help neuroscientists understand its biological underpinnings. This talk will cover our own journey to understand navigation by building deep reinforcement learning agents, starting from learning to control a simple agent that can explore and memorise large 3D mazes. I will show how these artificial agents relate to navigation in the real world, both through the study of the emergence of grid cell representations in neural networks and by demonstrating that these agents can navigate in Street View-based real world photographic environments. I will finally present a new task and preliminary results on navigating in Street View by following language instructions.

This talk is part of the NLIP Seminar Series series.

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