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Optimal navigation of a smart active particle: directional and distance sensing

Putzke, Mischa; Stark, Holger; Springer (Contributor)

We employ Q learning, a variant of reinforcement learning, so that an active particle learns by itself to navigate on the fastest path toward a target while experiencing external forces and flow fields. As state variables, we use the distance and direction toward the target, and as action variables the active particle can choose a new orientation along which it moves with constant velocity. We explicitly investigate optimal navigation in a potential barrier/well and a uniform/ Poiseuille/swirling flow field. We show that Q learning is able to identify the fastest path and discuss the results. We also demonstrate that Q learning and applying the learned policy works when the particle orientation experiences thermal noise. However, the successful outcome strongly depends on the specific problem and the strength of noise.
Published in: The European Physical Journal E, 10.1140/epje/s10189-023-00309-3, Springer Nature