Soft robots undergo large nonlinear spatial deformations due to both inherent actuation and external loading. The physics underlying these deformations is complex, and often requires intricate analytical and numerical models. The complexity of these models may render traditional model-based control difficult and unsuitable. Model-free methods offer an alternative for analyzing the behavior of such complex systems without the need for elaborate modeling techniques. In this paper, we present a model-free approach for open loop position control of a soft spatial continuum arm, based on deep reinforcement learning. The continuum arm is pneumatically actuated and attains a spatial work-space by a combination of unidirectional bending and bidirectional torsional deformation. We use Deep-Q Learning with experience replay to train the system in simulation. The efficacy and robustness of the control policy obtained from the system is validated both in simulation and on the continuum arm prototype for varying external loading conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2019 International Conference on Robotics and Automation, ICRA 2019
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781538660263
StatePublished - May 2019
Event2019 International Conference on Robotics and Automation, ICRA 2019 - Montreal, Canada
Duration: May 20 2019May 24 2019

Publication series

NameProceedings - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation
ISSN (Print)1050-4729


Conference2019 International Conference on Robotics and Automation, ICRA 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering


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