All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Arie Nakhmani

Advisory Committee Members

Amy Amara

Earl Wells

Karthikeyan Lingasubramanian

Leon Jololian

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Engineering


We propose a self-supervised, model-free deep reinforcement learning architecture with cascade reward for unmanned aerial vehicle navigation and target interception in a 3D environment. The first contribution of the dissertation solves the problem of partial observability when non-linear function approximators are used for learning stochastic policies. The second contribution optimizes the problem of maximizing the total expected rewards. The third contribution trains the agent in a photo-realistic environment with a real physics engine. To achieve these goals, a deep Q-network that combines double and dueling architectures is adopted as a value function approximator, and the prioritized experience replays the sample independent and identically distributed random variables from the experiences with the highest relevance to the interception and obstacle avoidance tasks. A new simulator is developed for training drones to track and intercept a target. We demonstrate that our approach achieves better results in learning policies compared to state-of-the-art deep Q-network algorithms.

Included in

Engineering Commons



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