Auxiliary Tasks Speed Up Learning PointGoal Navigation


PointGoal Navigation is an embodied task that requires agents to navigate to a specified point in an unseen environment. Wijmans et al. showed that this task is solvable but their method is computationally prohibitive, requiring 2.5 billion frames and 180 GPU-days. In this work, we develop a method to significantly increase sample and time efficiency in learning PointNav using self-supervised auxiliary tasks (e.g. predicting the action taken between two egocentric observations, predicting the distance between two observations from a trajectory,etc.).We find that naively combining multiple auxiliary tasks improves sample efficiency,but only provides marginal gains beyond a point. To overcome this, we use attention to combine representations learnt from individual auxiliary tasks. Our best agent is 5x faster to reach the performance of the previous state-of-the-art, DD-PPO, at 40M frames, and improves on DD-PPO’s performance at40M frames by 0.16 SPL.