AI Seminar Series 2021: Marlos C. Machado, Autonomous Navigation of Stratospheric Balloons using reinforcement learning

The AI Seminar is a weekly meeting at the University of Alberta where researchers interested in artificial intelligence (AI) can share their research. Presenters include both local speakers from the University of Alberta and visitors from other institutions. Topics can be related in any way to artificial intelligence, from foundational theoretical work to innovative applications of AI techniques to new fields and problems.

On January 22, research scientist at DeepMind Alberta, adjunct professor at the University of Alberta and Amii alumnus Marlos C. Machado presented "Autonomous navigation of stratospheric balloons using reinforcement learning".

Efficiently navigating a superpressure balloon in the stratosphere requires the integration of a multitude of cues, such as wind speed and solar elevation, and the process is complicated by forecast errors and sparse wind measurements. Coupled with the need to make decisions in real time, these factors rule out the use of conventional control techniques. This talk describes the use of reinforcement learning (RL) to create a high-performing flight controller for Loon superpressure balloons, demonstrating that RL is an effective solution to real-world autonomous control problems in which neither conventional methods nor human intervention suffice.

Watch the full presentation below:

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