Vision-Language Models Provide Promptable Representations for Reinforcement Learning


Humans can quickly learn new behaviors by leveraging background world knowledge. In contrast, agents trained with reinforcement learning (RL) typically learn behaviors from scratch. We thus propose a novel approach that uses the vast amounts of general and indexable world knowledge encoded in vision-language models (VLMs) pre-trained on Internet-scale data for embodied RL. We initialize policies with VLMs by using them as promptable representations, embeddings that are grounded in visual observations and encode semantic features based on the VLM’s internal knowledge, as elicited through prompts that provide task context and auxiliary information. We evaluate our approach on visually-complex, long horizon RL tasks in Minecraft and robot navigation in Habitat. We find that our policies trained on embeddings extracted from general-purpose VLMs outperform equivalent policies trained on generic, non-promptable image embeddings. We also find our approach outperforms instructionfollowing methods and performs comparably to domain-specific embeddings.

In arxiv 2024