Robotics: Science and Systems XV

An Online Learning Approach to Model Predictive Control

Nolan Wagener, Ching-an Cheng, Jacob Sacks, Byron Boots


Model predictive control (MPC) is a powerful technique for solving dynamic control tasks. In this paper, we show that there exists a close connection between MPC and online learning, an abstract theoretical framework for analyzing online decision making in the optimization literature. This new perspective provides a foundation for leveraging powerful online learning algorithms to design MPC algorithms. Specifically, we propose a new algorithm based on dynamic mirror descent (DMD), an online learning algorithm that is designed for non-stationary setups. Our algorithm, Dynamic Mirror Descent Model Predictive Control (DMD-MPC), represents a general family of MPC algorithms that includes many existing techniques as special instances. DMD-MPC also provides a fresh perspective on previous heuristics used in MPC and suggests a principled way to design new MPC algorithms. In the experimental section of this paper, we demonstrate the flexibility of DMD-MPC, presenting a set of new MPC algorithms on a simple simulated cartpole and a simulated and real-world aggressive driving task. A video of the real-world experiment can be found at



    AUTHOR    = {Nolan Wagener AND Ching-an Cheng AND Jacob Sacks AND Byron Boots}, 
    TITLE     = {An Online Learning Approach to Model Predictive Control}, 
    BOOKTITLE = {Proceedings of Robotics: Science and Systems}, 
    YEAR      = {2019}, 
    ADDRESS   = {FreiburgimBreisgau, Germany}, 
    MONTH     = {June}, 
    DOI       = {10.15607/RSS.2019.XV.033}