Niklas Funk receives ETH medal for outstanding Master Thesis
Niklas Funk has been awarded the ETH Medal for his excellent Master thesis from the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering at ETH Zurich. Niklas conducted his Master thesis project on "Learning event-triggered control - Leveraging hierarchical reinforcement learning algorithms to obtain resource-aware controllers" under the supervision of Dominik Baumann and Sebastian Trimpe at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) in Tübingen/Stuttgart in 2020. Before joining RWTH Aachen, Sebastian Trimpe led the Intelligent Control Systems Group at MPI-IS. Niklas was co-supervised by Raffaello D'Andrea from ETH Zurich.
In his thesis, Niklas developed reinforcement learning methods that learn resource-aware controllers from data. Modern engineering systems are often connected to each other or remote computing units via communication networks. For controlling such systems, we need to design control laws that not only achieve high performance but also communicate only if necessary to save communication bandwidth and avoid overloading the network. Especially for complex systems, such as robots, designing such controllers is a challenging task. By leveraging state-of-the-art hierarchical reinforcement learning methods, Niklas was able to learn resource-aware controllers from data that achieved high control performance at low communication rates in high-dimensional and nonlinear simulation examples and on a real-world robotic system (videos of simulations and experiments are available here). The results of Niklas' thesis were recently published in the IFAC Journal of Systems and Control and on arXiv.
We continue the research on resource-aware control and reinforcement learning now at DSME at RWTH Aachen University.