Learning robots that can acquire new motor skills and refine existing ones have been a long standing vision of robotics, artificial intelligence, and the cognitive sciences. Early steps towards this goal in the 1980s made clear that reasoning and human insights will not suffice. Instead, new hope has been offered by the rise of modern machine learning approaches. However, to date, it becomes increasingly clear that off-the-shelf machine learning approaches will not be adequate for robot skill learning as these methods often do not scale into the high-dimensional domains of manipulator and humanoid robotics, nor do they fulfill the real-time requirement of the domain. As an alternative, we propose to divide the generic skill learning problem into parts that can be well-understood from a robotics point of view. After designing appropriate learning approaches for these basic components, these will serve as the ingredients of a general approach to robot skill learning. In this paper, we discuss our recent and current progress in this direction. As such, we present our work on learning to control, learning elementary movements, as well as our steps towards the learning of complex tasks. We show several evaluations using both real robots as well as physically realistic simulations.
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