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2020


Label Efficient Visual Abstractions for Autonomous Driving
Label Efficient Visual Abstractions for Autonomous Driving

Behl, A., Chitta, K., Prakash, A., Ohn-Bar, E., Geiger, A.

IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), IEEE, October 2020 (conference)

Abstract
It is well known that semantic segmentation can be used as an effective intermediate representation for learning driving policies. However, the task of street scene semantic segmentation requires expensive annotations. Furthermore, segmentation algorithms are often trained irrespective of the actual driving task, using auxiliary image-space loss functions which are not guaranteed to maximize driving metrics such as safety or distance traveled per intervention. In this work, we seek to quantify the impact of reducing segmentation annotation costs on learned behavior cloning agents. We analyze several segmentation-based intermediate representations. We use these visual abstractions to systematically study the trade-off between annotation efficiency and driving performance, ie, the types of classes labeled, the number of image samples used to learn the visual abstraction model, and their granularity (eg, object masks vs. 2D bounding boxes). Our analysis uncovers several practical insights into how segmentation-based visual abstractions can be exploited in a more label efficient manner. Surprisingly, we find that state-of-the-art driving performance can be achieved with orders of magnitude reduction in annotation cost. Beyond label efficiency, we find several additional training benefits when leveraging visual abstractions, such as a significant reduction in the variance of the learned policy when compared to state-of-the-art end-to-end driving models.

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pdf slides video Project Page [BibTex]

2020


pdf slides video Project Page [BibTex]


Convolutional Occupancy Networks
Convolutional Occupancy Networks

Peng, S., Niemeyer, M., Mescheder, L., Pollefeys, M., Geiger, A.

In European Conference on Computer Vision (ECCV), Springer International Publishing, Cham, August 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Recently, implicit neural representations have gained popularity for learning-based 3D reconstruction. While demonstrating promising results, most implicit approaches are limited to comparably simple geometry of single objects and do not scale to more complicated or large-scale scenes. The key limiting factor of implicit methods is their simple fully-connected network architecture which does not allow for integrating local information in the observations or incorporating inductive biases such as translational equivariance. In this paper, we propose Convolutional Occupancy Networks, a more flexible implicit representation for detailed reconstruction of objects and 3D scenes. By combining convolutional encoders with implicit occupancy decoders, our model incorporates inductive biases, enabling structured reasoning in 3D space. We investigate the effectiveness of the proposed representation by reconstructing complex geometry from noisy point clouds and low-resolution voxel representations. We empirically find that our method enables the fine-grained implicit 3D reconstruction of single objects, scales to large indoor scenes, and generalizes well from synthetic to real data.

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pdf suppmat video Project Page [BibTex]

pdf suppmat video Project Page [BibTex]


Learning Sensory-Motor Associations from Demonstration
Learning Sensory-Motor Associations from Demonstration

Berenz, V., Bjelic, A., Herath, L., Mainprice, J.

29th IEEE International Conference on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (Ro-Man 2020), August 2020 (conference) Accepted

Abstract
We propose a method which generates reactive robot behavior learned from human demonstration. In order to do so, we use the Playful programming language which is based on the reactive programming paradigm. This allows us to represent the learned behavior as a set of associations between sensor and motor primitives in a human readable script. Distinguishing between sensor and motor primitives introduces a supplementary level of granularity and more importantly enforces feedback, increasing adaptability and robustness. As the experimental section shows, useful behaviors may be learned from a single demonstration covering a very limited portion of the task space.

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Category Level Object Pose Estimation via Neural Analysis-by-Synthesis
Category Level Object Pose Estimation via Neural Analysis-by-Synthesis

Chen, X., Dong, Z., Song, J., Geiger, A., Hilliges, O.

In European Conference on Computer Vision (ECCV), Springer International Publishing, Cham, August 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Many object pose estimation algorithms rely on the analysis-by-synthesis framework which requires explicit representations of individual object instances. In this paper we combine a gradient-based fitting procedure with a parametric neural image synthesis module that is capable of implicitly representing the appearance, shape and pose of entire object categories, thus rendering the need for explicit CAD models per object instance unnecessary. The image synthesis network is designed to efficiently span the pose configuration space so that model capacity can be used to capture the shape and local appearance (i.e., texture) variations jointly. At inference time the synthesized images are compared to the target via an appearance based loss and the error signal is backpropagated through the network to the input parameters. Keeping the network parameters fixed, this allows for iterative optimization of the object pose, shape and appearance in a joint manner and we experimentally show that the method can recover orientation of objects with high accuracy from 2D images alone. When provided with depth measurements, to overcome scale ambiguities, the method can accurately recover the full 6DOF pose successfully.

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Project Page pdf suppmat [BibTex]

Project Page pdf suppmat [BibTex]


How to Train Your Differentiable Filter
How to Train Your Differentiable Filter

Alina Kloss, G. M. J. B.

In July 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In many robotic applications, it is crucial to maintain a belief about the state of a system. These state estimates serve as input for planning and decision making and provide feedback during task execution. Recursive Bayesian Filtering algorithms address the state estimation problem, but they require models of process dynamics and sensory observations as well as noise characteristics of these models. Recently, multiple works have demonstrated that these models can be learned by end-to-end training through differentiable versions of Recursive Filtering algorithms.The aim of this work is to improve understanding and applicability of such differentiable filters (DF). We implement DFs with four different underlying filtering algorithms and compare them in extensive experiments. We find that long enough training sequences are crucial for DF performance and that modelling heteroscedastic observation noise significantly improves results. And while the different DFs perform similarly on our example task, we recommend the differentiable Extended Kalman Filter for getting started due to its simplicity.

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pdf [BibTex]


Learning Unsupervised Hierarchical Part Decomposition of 3D Objects from a Single RGB Image
Learning Unsupervised Hierarchical Part Decomposition of 3D Objects from a Single RGB Image

Paschalidou, D., Gool, L., Geiger, A.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2020, 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Humans perceive the 3D world as a set of distinct objects that are characterized by various low-level (geometry, reflectance) and high-level (connectivity, adjacency, symmetry) properties. Recent methods based on convolutional neural networks (CNNs) demonstrated impressive progress in 3D reconstruction, even when using a single 2D image as input. However, the majority of these methods focuses on recovering the local 3D geometry of an object without considering its part-based decomposition or relations between parts. We address this challenging problem by proposing a novel formulation that allows to jointly recover the geometry of a 3D object as a set of primitives as well as their latent hierarchical structure without part-level supervision. Our model recovers the higher level structural decomposition of various objects in the form of a binary tree of primitives, where simple parts are represented with fewer primitives and more complex parts are modeled with more components. Our experiments on the ShapeNet and D-FAUST datasets demonstrate that considering the organization of parts indeed facilitates reasoning about 3D geometry.

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pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Slides Poster Video 1 [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Slides Poster Video 1 [BibTex]


GRAF: Generative Radiance Fields for 3D-Aware Image Synthesis
GRAF: Generative Radiance Fields for 3D-Aware Image Synthesis

Schwarz, K., Liao, Y., Niemeyer, M., Geiger, A.

In Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS), 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
While 2D generative adversarial networks have enabled high-resolution image synthesis, they largely lack an understanding of the 3D world and the image formation process. Thus, they do not provide precise control over camera viewpoint or object pose. To address this problem, several recent approaches leverage intermediate voxel-based representations in combination with differentiable rendering. However, existing methods either produce low image resolution or fall short in disentangling camera and scene properties, eg, the object identity may vary with the viewpoint. In this paper, we propose a generative model for radiance fields which have recently proven successful for novel view synthesis of a single scene. In contrast to voxel-based representations, radiance fields are not confined to a coarse discretization of the 3D space, yet allow for disentangling camera and scene properties while degrading gracefully in the presence of reconstruction ambiguity. By introducing a multi-scale patch-based discriminator, we demonstrate synthesis of high-resolution images while training our model from unposed 2D images alone. We systematically analyze our approach on several challenging synthetic and real-world datasets. Our experiments reveal that radiance fields are a powerful representation for generative image synthesis, leading to 3D consistent models that render with high fidelity.

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pdf suppmat video Project Page [BibTex]

pdf suppmat video Project Page [BibTex]


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A Real-Robot Dataset for Assessing Transferability of Learned Dynamics Models

Agudelo-España, D., Zadaianchuk, A., Wenk, P., Garg, A., Akpo, J., Grimminger, F., Viereck, J., Naveau, M., Righetti, L., Martius, G., Krause, A., Schölkopf, B., Bauer, S., Wüthrich, M.

IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2020 (conference) Accepted

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Project Page PDF [BibTex]

Project Page PDF [BibTex]


Towards Unsupervised Learning of Generative Models for 3D Controllable Image Synthesis
Towards Unsupervised Learning of Generative Models for 3D Controllable Image Synthesis

Liao, Y., Schwarz, K., Mescheder, L., Geiger, A.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2020, 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In recent years, Generative Adversarial Networks have achieved impressive results in photorealistic image synthesis. This progress nurtures hopes that one day the classical rendering pipeline can be replaced by efficient models that are learned directly from images. However, current image synthesis models operate in the 2D domain where disentangling 3D properties such as camera viewpoint or object pose is challenging. Furthermore, they lack an interpretable and controllable representation. Our key hypothesis is that the image generation process should be modeled in 3D space as the physical world surrounding us is intrinsically three-dimensional. We define the new task of 3D controllable image synthesis and propose an approach for solving it by reasoning both in 3D space and in the 2D image domain. We demonstrate that our model is able to disentangle latent 3D factors of simple multi-object scenes in an unsupervised fashion from raw images. Compared to pure 2D baselines, it allows for synthesizing scenes that are consistent wrt. changes in viewpoint or object pose. We further evaluate various 3D representations in terms of their usefulness for this challenging task.

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pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Video 1 Slides Poster [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Video 1 Slides Poster [BibTex]


Exploring Data Aggregation in Policy Learning for Vision-based Urban Autonomous Driving
Exploring Data Aggregation in Policy Learning for Vision-based Urban Autonomous Driving

Prakash, A., Behl, A., Ohn-Bar, E., Chitta, K., Geiger, A.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2020, 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Data aggregation techniques can significantly improve vision-based policy learning within a training environment, e.g., learning to drive in a specific simulation condition. However, as on-policy data is sequentially sampled and added in an iterative manner, the policy can specialize and overfit to the training conditions. For real-world applications, it is useful for the learned policy to generalize to novel scenarios that differ from the training conditions. To improve policy learning while maintaining robustness when training end-to-end driving policies, we perform an extensive analysis of data aggregation techniques in the CARLA environment. We demonstrate how the majority of them have poor generalization performance, and develop a novel approach with empirically better generalization performance compared to existing techniques. Our two key ideas are (1) to sample critical states from the collected on-policy data based on the utility they provide to the learned policy in terms of driving behavior, and (2) to incorporate a replay buffer which progressively focuses on the high uncertainty regions of the policy's state distribution. We evaluate the proposed approach on the CARLA NoCrash benchmark, focusing on the most challenging driving scenarios with dense pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Our approach improves driving success rate by 16% over state-of-the-art, achieving 87% of the expert performance while also reducing the collision rate by an order of magnitude without the use of any additional modality, auxiliary tasks, architectural modifications or reward from the environment.

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pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Slides Video 1 [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Slides Video 1 [BibTex]


Learning Situational Driving
Learning Situational Driving

Ohn-Bar, E., Prakash, A., Behl, A., Chitta, K., Geiger, A.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2020, 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Human drivers have a remarkable ability to drive in diverse visual conditions and situations, e.g., from maneuvering in rainy, limited visibility conditions with no lane markings to turning in a busy intersection while yielding to pedestrians. In contrast, we find that state-of-the-art sensorimotor driving models struggle when encountering diverse settings with varying relationships between observation and action. To generalize when making decisions across diverse conditions, humans leverage multiple types of situation-specific reasoning and learning strategies. Motivated by this observation, we develop a framework for learning a situational driving policy that effectively captures reasoning under varying types of scenarios. Our key idea is to learn a mixture model with a set of policies that can capture multiple driving modes. We first optimize the mixture model through behavior cloning, and show it to result in significant gains in terms of driving performance in diverse conditions. We then refine the model by directly optimizing for the driving task itself, i.e., supervised with the navigation task reward. Our method is more scalable than methods assuming access to privileged information, e.g., perception labels, as it only assumes demonstration and reward-based supervision. We achieve over 98% success rate on the CARLA driving benchmark as well as state-of-the-art performance on a newly introduced generalization benchmark.

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pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Video 1 Slides [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Video 1 Slides [BibTex]


On Joint Estimation of Pose, Geometry and svBRDF from a Handheld Scanner
On Joint Estimation of Pose, Geometry and svBRDF from a Handheld Scanner

Schmitt, C., Donne, S., Riegler, G., Koltun, V., Geiger, A.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2020, 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We propose a novel formulation for joint recovery of camera pose, object geometry and spatially-varying BRDF. The input to our approach is a sequence of RGB-D images captured by a mobile, hand-held scanner that actively illuminates the scene with point light sources. Compared to previous works that jointly estimate geometry and materials from a hand-held scanner, we formulate this problem using a single objective function that can be minimized using off-the-shelf gradient-based solvers. By integrating material clustering as a differentiable operation into the optimization process, we avoid pre-processing heuristics and demonstrate that our model is able to determine the correct number of specular materials independently. We provide a study on the importance of each component in our formulation and on the requirements of the initial geometry. We show that optimizing over the poses is crucial for accurately recovering fine details and that our approach naturally results in a semantically meaningful material segmentation.

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pdf Project Page Slides Video Poster [BibTex]

pdf Project Page Slides Video Poster [BibTex]


Intrinsic Autoencoders for Joint Neural Rendering and Intrinsic Image Decomposition
Intrinsic Autoencoders for Joint Neural Rendering and Intrinsic Image Decomposition

Hassan Alhaija, Siva Mustikovela, Varun Jampani, Justus Thies, Matthias Niessner, Andreas Geiger, Carsten Rother

In International Conference on 3D Vision (3DV), 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Neural rendering techniques promise efficient photo-realistic image synthesis while providing rich control over scene parameters by learning the physical image formation process. While several supervised methods have been pro-posed for this task, acquiring a dataset of images with accurately aligned 3D models is very difficult. The main contribution of this work is to lift this restriction by training a neural rendering algorithm from unpaired data. We pro-pose an auto encoder for joint generation of realistic images from synthetic 3D models while simultaneously decomposing real images into their intrinsic shape and appearance properties. In contrast to a traditional graphics pipeline, our approach does not require to specify all scene properties, such as material parameters and lighting by hand.Instead, we learn photo-realistic deferred rendering from a small set of 3D models and a larger set of unaligned real images, both of which are easy to acquire in practice. Simultaneously, we obtain accurate intrinsic decompositions of real images while not requiring paired ground truth. Our experiments confirm that a joint treatment of rendering and de-composition is indeed beneficial and that our approach out-performs state-of-the-art image-to-image translation base-lines both qualitatively and quantitatively.

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pdf suppmat [BibTex]

pdf suppmat [BibTex]


Differentiable Volumetric Rendering: Learning Implicit 3D Representations without 3D Supervision
Differentiable Volumetric Rendering: Learning Implicit 3D Representations without 3D Supervision

Niemeyer, M., Mescheder, L., Oechsle, M., Geiger, A.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2020, 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Learning-based 3D reconstruction methods have shown impressive results. However, most methods require 3D supervision which is often hard to obtain for real-world datasets. Recently, several works have proposed differentiable rendering techniques to train reconstruction models from RGB images. Unfortunately, these approaches are currently restricted to voxel- and mesh-based representations, suffering from discretization or low resolution. In this work, we propose a differentiable rendering formulation for implicit shape and texture representations. Implicit representations have recently gained popularity as they represent shape and texture continuously. Our key insight is that depth gradients can be derived analytically using the concept of implicit differentiation. This allows us to learn implicit shape and texture representations directly from RGB images. We experimentally show that our single-view reconstructions rival those learned with full 3D supervision. Moreover, we find that our method can be used for multi-view 3D reconstruction, directly resulting in watertight meshes.

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pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Video 1 Video 3 Slides Poster [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Video 2 Project Page Video 1 Video 3 Slides Poster [BibTex]


Learning Implicit Surface Light Fields
Learning Implicit Surface Light Fields

Oechsle, M., Niemeyer, M., Reiser, C., Mescheder, L., Strauss, T., Geiger, A.

In International Conference on 3D Vision (3DV), 2020 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Implicit representations of 3D objects have recently achieved impressive results on learning-based 3D reconstruction tasks. While existing works use simple texture models to represent object appearance, photo-realistic image synthesis requires reasoning about the complex interplay of light, geometry and surface properties. In this work, we propose a novel implicit representation for capturing the visual appearance of an object in terms of its surface light field. In contrast to existing representations, our implicit model represents surface light fields in a continuous fashion and independent of the geometry. Moreover, we condition the surface light field with respect to the location and color of a small light source. Compared to traditional surface light field models, this allows us to manipulate the light source and relight the object using environment maps. We further demonstrate the capabilities of our model to predict the visual appearance of an unseen object from a single real RGB image and corresponding 3D shape information. As evidenced by our experiments, our model is able to infer rich visual appearance including shadows and specular reflections. Finally, we show that the proposed representation can be embedded into a variational auto-encoder for generating novel appearances that conform to the specified illumination conditions.

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pdf suppmat Project Page [BibTex]

pdf suppmat Project Page [BibTex]

2014


Omnidirectional 3D Reconstruction in Augmented Manhattan Worlds
Omnidirectional 3D Reconstruction in Augmented Manhattan Worlds

Schoenbein, M., Geiger, A.

International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 716 - 723, IEEE, Chicago, IL, USA, IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and System, October 2014 (conference)

Abstract
This paper proposes a method for high-quality omnidirectional 3D reconstruction of augmented Manhattan worlds from catadioptric stereo video sequences. In contrast to existing works we do not rely on constructing virtual perspective views, but instead propose to optimize depth jointly in a unified omnidirectional space. Furthermore, we show that plane-based prior models can be applied even though planes in 3D do not project to planes in the omnidirectional domain. Towards this goal, we propose an omnidirectional slanted-plane Markov random field model which relies on plane hypotheses extracted using a novel voting scheme for 3D planes in omnidirectional space. To quantitatively evaluate our method we introduce a dataset which we have captured using our autonomous driving platform AnnieWAY which we equipped with two horizontally aligned catadioptric cameras and a Velodyne HDL-64E laser scanner for precise ground truth depth measurements. As evidenced by our experiments, the proposed method clearly benefits from the unified view and significantly outperforms existing stereo matching techniques both quantitatively and qualitatively. Furthermore, our method is able to reduce noise and the obtained depth maps can be represented very compactly by a small number of image segments and plane parameters.

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pdf DOI [BibTex]

2014


pdf DOI [BibTex]


Robot Arm Pose Estimation through Pixel-Wise Part Classification
Robot Arm Pose Estimation through Pixel-Wise Part Classification

Bohg, J., Romero, J., Herzog, A., Schaal, S.

In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2014, pages: 3143-3150, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), June 2014 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We propose to frame the problem of marker-less robot arm pose estimation as a pixel-wise part classification problem. As input, we use a depth image in which each pixel is classified to be either from a particular robot part or the background. The classifier is a random decision forest trained on a large number of synthetically generated and labeled depth images. From all the training samples ending up at a leaf node, a set of offsets is learned that votes for relative joint positions. Pooling these votes over all foreground pixels and subsequent clustering gives us an estimate of the true joint positions. Due to the intrinsic parallelism of pixel-wise classification, this approach can run in super real-time and is more efficient than previous ICP-like methods. We quantitatively evaluate the accuracy of this approach on synthetic data. We also demonstrate that the method produces accurate joint estimates on real data despite being purely trained on synthetic data.

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video code pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]

video code pdf DOI Project Page [BibTex]


Simultaneous Underwater Visibility Assessment, Enhancement and Improved Stereo
Simultaneous Underwater Visibility Assessment, Enhancement and Improved Stereo

Roser, M., Dunbabin, M., Geiger, A.

IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, pages: 3840 - 3847 , Hong Kong, China, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, June 2014 (conference)

Abstract
Vision-based underwater navigation and obstacle avoidance demands robust computer vision algorithms, particularly for operation in turbid water with reduced visibility. This paper describes a novel method for the simultaneous underwater image quality assessment, visibility enhancement and disparity computation to increase stereo range resolution under dynamic, natural lighting and turbid conditions. The technique estimates the visibility properties from a sparse 3D map of the original degraded image using a physical underwater light attenuation model. Firstly, an iterated distance-adaptive image contrast enhancement enables a dense disparity computation and visibility estimation. Secondly, using a light attenuation model for ocean water, a color corrected stereo underwater image is obtained along with a visibility distance estimate. Experimental results in shallow, naturally lit, high-turbidity coastal environments show the proposed technique improves range estimation over the original images as well as image quality and color for habitat classification. Furthermore, the recursiveness and robustness of the technique allows real-time implementation onboard an Autonomous Underwater Vehicles for improved navigation and obstacle avoidance performance.

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pdf DOI [BibTex]

pdf DOI [BibTex]


Calibrating and Centering Quasi-Central Catadioptric Cameras
Calibrating and Centering Quasi-Central Catadioptric Cameras

Schoenbein, M., Strauss, T., Geiger, A.

IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, pages: 4443 - 4450, Hong Kong, China, IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, June 2014 (conference)

Abstract
Non-central catadioptric models are able to cope with irregular camera setups and inaccuracies in the manufacturing process but are computationally demanding and thus not suitable for robotic applications. On the other hand, calibrating a quasi-central (almost central) system with a central model introduces errors due to a wrong relationship between the viewing ray orientations and the pixels on the image sensor. In this paper, we propose a central approximation to quasi-central catadioptric camera systems that is both accurate and efficient. We observe that the distance to points in 3D is typically large compared to deviations from the single viewpoint. Thus, we first calibrate the system using a state-of-the-art non-central camera model. Next, we show that by remapping the observations we are able to match the orientation of the viewing rays of a much simpler single viewpoint model with the true ray orientations. While our approximation is general and applicable to all quasi-central camera systems, we focus on one of the most common cases in practice: hypercatadioptric cameras. We compare our model to a variety of baselines in synthetic and real localization and motion estimation experiments. We show that by using the proposed model we are able to achieve near non-central accuracy while obtaining speed-ups of more than three orders of magnitude compared to state-of-the-art non-central models.

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pdf DOI [BibTex]

pdf DOI [BibTex]


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A Self-Tuning LQR Approach Demonstrated on an Inverted Pendulum

Trimpe, S., Millane, A., Doessegger, S., D’Andrea, R.

In Proceedings of the 19th IFAC World Congress, Cape Town, South Africa, 2014 (inproceedings)

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PDF Supplementary material DOI [BibTex]

PDF Supplementary material DOI [BibTex]


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Learning coupling terms for obstacle avoidance

Rai, A., Meier, F., Ijspeert, A., Schaal, S.

In International Conference on Humanoid Robotics, pages: 512-518, IEEE, 2014, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Autonomous manipulation in dynamic environments is important for robots to perform everyday tasks. For this, a manipulator should be capable of interpreting the environment and planning an appropriate movement. At least, two possible approaches exist for this in literature. Usually, a planning system is used to generate a complex movement plan that satisfies all constraints. Alternatively, a simple plan could be chosen and modified with sensory feedback to accommodate additional constraints by equipping the controller with features that remain dormant most of the time, except when specific situations arise. Dynamic Movement Primitives (DMPs) form a robust and versatile starting point for such a controller that can be modified online using a non-linear term, called the coupling term. This can prove to be a fast and reactive way of obstacle avoidance in a human-like fashion. We propose a method to learn this coupling term from human demonstrations starting with simple features and making it more robust to avoid a larger range of obstacles. We test the ability of our coupling term to model different kinds of obstacle avoidance behaviours in humans and use this learnt coupling term to avoid obstacles in a reactive manner. This line of research aims at pushing the boundary of reactive control strategies to more complex scenarios, such that complex and usually computationally more expensive planning methods can be avoided as much as possible.

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link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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Incremental Local Gaussian Regression

Meier, F., Hennig, P., Schaal, S.

In Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 27, pages: 972-980, (Editors: Z. Ghahramani, M. Welling, C. Cortes, N.D. Lawrence and K.Q. Weinberger), 28th Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), 2014, clmc (inproceedings)

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PDF link (url) [BibTex]

PDF link (url) [BibTex]


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Efficient Bayesian Local Model Learning for Control

Meier, F., Hennig, P., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 2244 - 2249, IROS, 2014, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Model-based control is essential for compliant controland force control in many modern complex robots, like humanoidor disaster robots. Due to many unknown and hard tomodel nonlinearities, analytical models of such robots are oftenonly very rough approximations. However, modern optimizationcontrollers frequently depend on reasonably accurate models,and degrade greatly in robustness and performance if modelerrors are too large. For a long time, machine learning hasbeen expected to provide automatic empirical model synthesis,yet so far, research has only generated feasibility studies butno learning algorithms that run reliably on complex robots.In this paper, we combine two promising worlds of regressiontechniques to generate a more powerful regression learningsystem. On the one hand, locally weighted regression techniquesare computationally efficient, but hard to tune due to avariety of data dependent meta-parameters. On the other hand,Bayesian regression has rather automatic and robust methods toset learning parameters, but becomes quickly computationallyinfeasible for big and high-dimensional data sets. By reducingthe complexity of Bayesian regression in the spirit of local modellearning through variational approximations, we arrive at anovel algorithm that is computationally efficient and easy toinitialize for robust learning. Evaluations on several datasetsdemonstrate very good learning performance and the potentialfor a general regression learning tool for robotics.

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PDF link (url) DOI [BibTex]

PDF link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Stability Analysis of Distributed Event-Based State Estimation

Trimpe, S.

In Proceedings of the 53rd IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, Los Angeles, CA, 2014 (inproceedings)

Abstract
An approach for distributed and event-based state estimation that was proposed in previous work [1] is analyzed and extended to practical networked systems in this paper. Multiple sensor-actuator-agents observe a dynamic process, sporadically exchange their measurements over a broadcast network according to an event-based protocol, and estimate the process state from the received data. The event-based approach was shown in [1] to mimic a centralized Luenberger observer up to guaranteed bounds, under the assumption of identical estimates on all agents. This assumption, however, is unrealistic (it is violated by a single packet drop or slight numerical inaccuracy) and removed herein. By means of a simulation example, it is shown that non-identical estimates can actually destabilize the overall system. To achieve stability, the event-based communication scheme is supplemented by periodic (but infrequent) exchange of the agentsâ?? estimates and reset to their joint average. When the local estimates are used for feedback control, the stability guarantee for the estimation problem extends to the event-based control system.

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PDF Supplementary material DOI Project Page [BibTex]

PDF Supplementary material DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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Dual Execution of Optimized Contact Interaction Trajectories

Toussaint, M., Ratliff, N., Bohg, J., Righetti, L., Englert, P., Schaal, S.

In 2014 IEEE/RSJ Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 47-54, IEEE, Chicago, USA, 2014 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Efficient manipulation requires contact to reduce uncertainty. The manipulation literature refers to this as funneling: a methodology for increasing reliability and robustness by leveraging haptic feedback and control of environmental interaction. However, there is a fundamental gap between traditional approaches to trajectory optimization and this concept of robustness by funneling: traditional trajectory optimizers do not discover force feedback strategies. From a POMDP perspective, these behaviors could be regarded as explicit observation actions planned to sufficiently reduce uncertainty thereby enabling a task. While we are sympathetic to the full POMDP view, solving full continuous-space POMDPs in high-dimensions is hard. In this paper, we propose an alternative approach in which trajectory optimization objectives are augmented with new terms that reward uncertainty reduction through contacts, explicitly promoting funneling. This augmentation shifts the responsibility of robustness toward the actual execution of the optimized trajectories. Directly tracing trajectories through configuration space would lose all robustness-dual execution achieves robustness by devising force controllers to reproduce the temporal interaction profile encoded in the dual solution of the optimization problem. This work introduces dual execution in depth and analyze its performance through robustness experiments in both simulation and on a real-world robotic platform.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Learning and Exploration in a Novel Dimensionality-Reduction Task

Ebert, J, Kim, S, Schweighofer, N., Sternad, D, Schaal, S.

In Abstracts of Neural Control of Movement Conference (NCM 2009), Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2014 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Balancing experiments on a torque-controlled humanoid with hierarchical inverse dynamics

Herzog, A., Righetti, L., Grimminger, F., Pastor, P., Schaal, S.

In 2014 IEEE/RSJ Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 981-988, IEEE, Chicago, USA, 2014 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Recently several hierarchical inverse dynamics controllers based on cascades of quadratic programs have been proposed for application on torque controlled robots. They have important theoretical benefits but have never been implemented on a torque controlled robot where model inaccuracies and real-time computation requirements can be problematic. In this contribution we present an experimental evaluation of these algorithms in the context of balance control for a humanoid robot. The presented experiments demonstrate the applicability of the approach under real robot conditions (i.e. model uncertainty, estimation errors, etc). We propose a simplification of the optimization problem that allows us to decrease computation time enough to implement it in a fast torque control loop. We implement a momentum-based balance controller which shows robust performance in face of unknown disturbances, even when the robot is standing on only one foot. In a second experiment, a tracking task is evaluated to demonstrate the performance of the controller with more complicated hierarchies. Our results show that hierarchical inverse dynamics controllers can be used for feedback control of humanoid robots and that momentum-based balance control can be efficiently implemented on a real robot.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Full Dynamics LQR Control of a Humanoid Robot: An Experimental Study on Balancing and Squatting

Mason, S., Righetti, L., Schaal, S.

In 2014 IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots, pages: 374-379, IEEE, Madrid, Spain, 2014 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Humanoid robots operating in human environments require whole-body controllers that can offer precise tracking and well-defined disturbance rejection behavior. In this contribution, we propose an experimental evaluation of a linear quadratic regulator (LQR) using a linearization of the full robot dynamics together with the contact constraints. The advantage of the controller is that it explicitly takes into account the coupling between the different joints to create optimal feedback controllers for whole-body control. We also propose a method to explicitly regulate other tasks of interest, such as the regulation of the center of mass of the robot or its angular momentum. In order to evaluate the performance of linear optimal control designs in a real-world scenario (model uncertainty, sensor noise, imperfect state estimation, etc), we test the controllers in a variety of tracking and balancing experiments on a torque controlled humanoid (e.g. balancing, split plane balancing, squatting, pushes while squatting, and balancing on a wheeled platform). The proposed control framework shows a reliable push recovery behavior competitive with more sophisticated balance controllers, rejecting impulses up to 11.7 Ns with peak forces of 650 N, with the added advantage of great computational simplicity. Furthermore, the controller is able to track squatting trajectories up to 1 Hz without relinearization, suggesting that the linearized dynamics is sufficient for significant ranges of motion.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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State Estimation for a Humanoid Robot

Rotella, N., Bloesch, M., Righetti, L., Schaal, S.

In 2014 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 952-958, IEEE, Chicago, USA, 2014 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This paper introduces a framework for state estimation on a humanoid robot platform using only common proprioceptive sensors and knowledge of leg kinematics. The presented approach extends that detailed in prior work on a point-foot quadruped platform by adding the rotational constraints imposed by the humanoid's flat feet. As in previous work, the proposed Extended Kalman Filter accommodates contact switching and makes no assumptions about gait or terrain, making it applicable on any humanoid platform for use in any task. A nonlinear observability analysis is performed on both the point-foot and flat-foot filters and it is concluded that the addition of rotational constraints significantly simplifies singular cases and improves the observability characteristics of the system. Results on a simulated walking dataset demonstrate the performance gain of the flat-foot filter as well as confirm the results of the presented observability analysis.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

2012


Towards Multi-DOF model mediated teleoperation: Using vision to augment feedback
Towards Multi-DOF model mediated teleoperation: Using vision to augment feedback

Willaert, B., Bohg, J., Van Brussel, H., Niemeyer, G.

In IEEE International Workshop on Haptic Audio Visual Environments and Games (HAVE), pages: 25-31, October 2012 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we address some of the challenges that arise as model-mediated teleoperation is applied to systems with multiple degrees of freedom and multiple sensors. Specifically we use a system with position, force, and vision sensors to explore an environment geometry in two degrees of freedom. The inclusion of vision is proposed to alleviate the difficulties of estimating an increasing number of environment properties. Vision can furthermore increase the predictive nature of model-mediated teleoperation, by effectively predicting touch feedback before the slave is even in contact with the environment. We focus on the case of estimating the location and orientation of a local surface patch at the contact point between the slave and the environment. We describe the various information sources with their respective limitations and create a combined model estimator as part of a multi-d.o.f. model-mediated controller. An experiment demonstrates the feasibility and benefits of utilizing vision sensors in teleoperation.

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DOI [BibTex]

2012


DOI [BibTex]


Failure Recovery with Shared Autonomy
Failure Recovery with Shared Autonomy

Sankaran, B., Pitzer, B., Osentoski, S.

In International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, October 2012 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Building robots capable of long term autonomy has been a long standing goal of robotics research. Such systems must be capable of performing certain tasks with a high degree of robustness and repeatability. In the context of personal robotics, these tasks could range anywhere from retrieving items from a refrigerator, loading a dishwasher, to setting up a dinner table. Given the complexity of tasks there are a multitude of failure scenarios that the robot can encounter, irrespective of whether the environment is static or dynamic. For a robot to be successful in such situations, it would need to know how to recover from failures or when to ask a human for help. This paper, presents a novel shared autonomy behavioral executive to addresses these issues. We demonstrate how this executive combines generalized logic based recovery and human intervention to achieve continuous failure free operation. We tested the systems over 250 trials of two different use case experiments. Our current algorithm drastically reduced human intervention from 26% to 4% on the first experiment and 46% to 9% on the second experiment. This system provides a new dimension to robot autonomy, where robots can exhibit long term failure free operation with minimal human supervision. We also discuss how the system can be generalized.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


Task-Based Grasp Adaptation on a Humanoid Robot
Task-Based Grasp Adaptation on a Humanoid Robot

Bohg, J., Welke, K., León, B., Do, M., Song, D., Wohlkinger, W., Aldoma, A., Madry, M., Przybylski, M., Asfour, T., Marti, H., Kragic, D., Morales, A., Vincze, M.

In 10th IFAC Symposium on Robot Control, SyRoCo 2012, Dubrovnik, Croatia, September 5-7, 2012., pages: 779-786, September 2012 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we present an approach towards autonomous grasping of objects according to their category and a given task. Recent advances in the field of object segmentation and categorization as well as task-based grasp inference have been leveraged by integrating them into one pipeline. This allows us to transfer task-specific grasp experience between objects of the same category. The effectiveness of the approach is demonstrated on the humanoid robot ARMAR-IIIa.

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Video pdf DOI [BibTex]

Video pdf DOI [BibTex]


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Movement Segmentation and Recognition for Imitation Learning

Meier, F., Theodorou, E., Schaal, S.

In Seventeenth International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics, La Palma, Canary Islands, Fifteenth International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics , April 2012 (inproceedings)

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Inverse dynamics with optimal distribution of contact forces for the control of legged robots

Righetti, L., Schaal, S.

In Dynamic Walking 2012, Pensacola, 2012 (inproceedings)

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Encoding of Periodic and their Transient Motions by a Single Dynamic Movement Primitive

Ernesti, J., Righetti, L., Do, M., Asfour, T., Schaal, S.

In 2012 12th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoids 2012), pages: 57-64, IEEE, Osaka, Japan, November 2012 (inproceedings)

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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An adaptive sensor foot for a bipedal and quadrupedal robot

Fondahl, K., Kuehn, D., Beinersdorf, F., Bernhard, F., Grimminger, F., Schilling, M., Stark, T., Kirchner, F.

In 2012 4th IEEE RAS EMBS International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (BioRob), pages: 270-275, June 2012 (inproceedings)

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Learning Force Control Policies for Compliant Robotic Manipulation

Kalakrishnan, M., Righetti, L., Pastor, P., Schaal, S.

In ICML’12 Proceedings of the 29th International Coference on International Conference on Machine Learning, pages: 49-50, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2012 (inproceedings)

am mg

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Quadratic programming for inverse dynamics with optimal distribution of contact forces

Righetti, L., Schaal, S.

In 2012 12th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoids 2012), pages: 538-543, IEEE, Osaka, Japan, November 2012 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this contribution we propose an inverse dynamics controller for a humanoid robot that exploits torque redundancy to minimize any combination of linear and quadratic costs in the contact forces and the commands. In addition the controller satisfies linear equality and inequality constraints in the contact forces and the commands such as torque limits, unilateral contacts or friction cones limits. The originality of our approach resides in the formulation of the problem as a quadratic program where we only need to solve for the control commands and where the contact forces are optimized implicitly. Furthermore, we do not need a structured representation of the dynamics of the robot (i.e. an explicit computation of the inertia matrix). It is in contrast with existing methods based on quadratic programs. The controller is then robust to uncertainty in the estimation of the dynamics model and the optimization is fast enough to be implemented in high bandwidth torque control loops that are increasingly available on humanoid platforms. We demonstrate properties of our controller with simulations of a human size humanoid robot.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Towards Associative Skill Memories

Pastor, P., Kalakrishnan, M., Righetti, L., Schaal, S.

In 2012 12th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots (Humanoids 2012), pages: 309-315, IEEE, Osaka, Japan, November 2012 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Movement primitives as basis of movement planning and control have become a popular topic in recent years. The key idea of movement primitives is that a rather small set of stereotypical movements should suffice to create a large set of complex manipulation skills. An interesting side effect of stereotypical movement is that it also creates stereotypical sensory events, e.g., in terms of kinesthetic variables, haptic variables, or, if processed appropriately, visual variables. Thus, a movement primitive executed towards a particular object in the environment will associate a large number of sensory variables that are typical for this manipulation skill. These association can be used to increase robustness towards perturbations, and they also allow failure detection and switching towards other behaviors. We call such movement primitives augmented with sensory associations Associative Skill Memories (ASM). This paper addresses how ASMs can be acquired by imitation learning and how they can create robust manipulation skill by determining subsequent ASMs online to achieve a particular manipulation goal. Evaluation for grasping and manipulation with a Barrett WAM/Hand illustrate our approach.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Template-based learning of grasp selection

Herzog, A., Pastor, P., Kalakrishnan, M., Righetti, L., Asfour, T., Schaal, S.

In 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, pages: 2379-2384, IEEE, Saint Paul, USA, 2012 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The ability to grasp unknown objects is an important skill for personal robots, which has been addressed by many present and past research projects, but still remains an open problem. A crucial aspect of grasping is choosing an appropriate grasp configuration, i.e. the 6d pose of the hand relative to the object and its finger configuration. Finding feasible grasp configurations for novel objects, however, is challenging because of the huge variety in shape and size of these objects. Moreover, possible configurations also depend on the specific kinematics of the robotic arm and hand in use. In this paper, we introduce a new grasp selection algorithm able to find object grasp poses based on previously demonstrated grasps. Assuming that objects with similar shapes can be grasped in a similar way, we associate to each demonstrated grasp a grasp template. The template is a local shape descriptor for a possible grasp pose and is constructed using 3d information from depth sensors. For each new object to grasp, the algorithm then finds the best grasp candidate in the library of templates. The grasp selection is also able to improve over time using the information of previous grasp attempts to adapt the ranking of the templates. We tested the algorithm on two different platforms, the Willow Garage PR2 and the Barrett WAM arm which have very different hands. Our results show that the algorithm is able to find good grasp configurations for a large set of objects from a relatively small set of demonstrations, and does indeed improve its performance over time.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Probabilistic depth image registration incorporating nonvisual information

Wüthrich, M., Pastor, P., Righetti, L., Billard, A., Schaal, S.

In 2012 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, pages: 3637-3644, IEEE, Saint Paul, USA, 2012 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper, we derive a probabilistic registration algorithm for object modeling and tracking. In many robotics applications, such as manipulation tasks, nonvisual information about the movement of the object is available, which we will combine with the visual information. Furthermore we do not only consider observations of the object, but we also take space into account which has been observed to not be part of the object. Furthermore we are computing a posterior distribution over the relative alignment and not a point estimate as typically done in for example Iterative Closest Point (ICP). To our knowledge no existing algorithm meets these three conditions and we thus derive a novel registration algorithm in a Bayesian framework. Experimental results suggest that the proposed methods perform favorably in comparison to PCL [1] implementations of feature mapping and ICP, especially if nonvisual information is available.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

2011


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STOMP: Stochastic trajectory optimization for motion planning

Kalakrishnan, M., Chitta, S., Theodorou, E., Pastor, P., Schaal, S.

In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Shanghai, China, May 9-13, 2011, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
We present a new approach to motion planning using a stochastic trajectory optimization framework. The approach relies on generating noisy trajectories to explore the space around an initial (possibly infeasible) trajectory, which are then combined to produced an updated trajectory with lower cost. A cost function based on a combination of obstacle and smoothness cost is optimized in each iteration. No gradient information is required for the particular optimization algorithm that we use and so general costs for which derivatives may not be available (e.g. costs corresponding to constraints and motor torques) can be included in the cost function. We demonstrate the approach both in simulation and on a dual-arm mobile manipulation system for unconstrained and constrained tasks. We experimentally show that the stochastic nature of STOMP allows it to overcome local minima that gradient-based optimizers like CHOMP can get stuck in.

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link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

2011


link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


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Development of a Low-Pressure Fluidic Servo-Valve for Wearable Haptic Interfaces and Lightweight Robotic Systems"

Folgheraiter, M., Jordan, M., Benitez, L. M. V., Grimminger, F., Schmidt, S., Albiez, J., Kirchner, F.

In Informatics in Control, Automation and Robotics, pages: 239-252, Springer Berlin Heidelberg, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2011 (inproceedings)

Abstract
This document presents a low-pressure servo-valve specifically designed for haptic interfaces and lightweight robotic applications. The device is able to work with hydraulic and pneumatic fluidic sources, operating within a pressure range of (0{\thinspace}−{\thinspace}50 {\textperiodcentered}105Pa). All sensors and electronics were integrated inside the body of the valve, reducing the need for external circuits. Positioning repeatability as well as the capability to fine modulate the hydraulic flow were measured and verified. Furthermore, the static and dynamic behavior of the valve were evaluated for different working conditions, and a non-linear model identified using a recursive Hammerstein-Wiener parameter adaptation algorithm.

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DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Path Integral Control and Bounded Rationality

Braun, D. A., Ortega, P. A., Theodorou, E., Schaal, S.

In IEEE Symposium on Adaptive Dynamic Programming And Reinforcement Learning (ADPRL), 2011, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Path integral methods [7], [15],[1] have recently been shown to be applicable to a very general class of optimal control problems. Here we examine the path integral formalism from a decision-theoretic point of view, since an optimal controller can always be regarded as an instance of a perfectly rational decision-maker that chooses its actions so as to maximize its expected utility [8]. The problem with perfect rationality is, however, that finding optimal actions is often very difficult due to prohibitive computational resource costs that are not taken into account. In contrast, a bounded rational decision-maker has only limited resources and therefore needs to strike some compromise between the desired utility and the required resource costs [14]. In particular, we suggest an information-theoretic measure of resource costs that can be derived axiomatically [11]. As a consequence we obtain a variational principle for choice probabilities that trades off maximizing a given utility criterion and avoiding resource costs that arise due to deviating from initially given default choice probabilities. The resulting bounded rational policies are in general probabilistic. We show that the solutions found by the path integral formalism are such bounded rational policies. Furthermore, we show that the same formalism generalizes to discrete control problems, leading to linearly solvable bounded rational control policies in the case of Markov systems. Importantly, Bellman?s optimality principle is not presupposed by this variational principle, but it can be derived as a limit case. This suggests that the information- theoretic formalization of bounded rationality might serve as a general principle in control design that unifies a number of recently reported approximate optimal control methods both in the continuous and discrete domain.

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Skill learning and task outcome prediction for manipulation

Pastor, P., Kalakrishnan, M., Chitta, S., Theodorou, E., Schaal, S.

In IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Shanghai, China, May 9-13, 2011, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Learning complex motor skills for real world tasks is a hard problem in robotic manipulation that often requires painstaking manual tuning and design by a human expert. In this work, we present a Reinforcement Learning based approach to acquiring new motor skills from demonstration. Our approach allows the robot to learn fine manipulation skills and significantly improve its success rate and skill level starting from a possibly coarse demonstration. Our approach aims to incorporate task domain knowledge, where appropriate, by working in a space consistent with the constraints of a specific task. In addition, we also present an approach to using sensor feedback to learn a predictive model of the task outcome. This allows our system to learn the proprioceptive sensor feedback needed to monitor subsequent executions of the task online and abort execution in the event of predicted failure. We illustrate our approach using two example tasks executed with the PR2 dual-arm robot: a straight and accurate pool stroke and a box flipping task using two chopsticks as tools.

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link (url) Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


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An Iterative Path Integral Stochastic Optimal Control Approach for Learning Robotic Tasks

Theodorou, E., Stulp, F., Buchli, J., Schaal, S.

In Proceedings of the 18th World Congress of the International Federation of Automatic Control, 2011, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Recent work on path integral stochastic optimal control theory Theodorou et al. (2010a); Theodorou (2011) has shown promising results in planning and control of nonlinear systems in high dimensional state spaces. The path integral control framework relies on the transformation of the nonlinear Hamilton Jacobi Bellman (HJB) partial differential equation (PDE) into a linear PDE and the approximation of its solution via the use of the Feynman Kac lemma. In this work, we are reviewing the generalized version of path integral stochastic optimal control formalism Theodorou et al. (2010a), used for optimal control and planing of stochastic dynamical systems with state dependent control and diffusion matrices. Moreover we present the iterative path integral control approach, the so called Policy Improvement with Path Integrals or (PI2 ) which is capable of scaling in high dimensional robotic control problems. Furthermore we present a convergence analysis of the proposed algorithm and we apply the proposed framework to a variety of robotic tasks. Finally with the goal to perform locomotion the iterative path integral control is applied for learning nonlinear limit cycle attractors with adjustable land scape.

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Learning Force Control Policies for Compliant Manipulation

Kalakrishnan, M., Righetti, L., Pastor, P., Schaal, S.

In 2011 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 4639-4644, IEEE, San Francisco, USA, sep 2011 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Developing robots capable of fine manipulation skills is of major importance in order to build truly assistive robots. These robots need to be compliant in their actuation and control in order to operate safely in human environments. Manipulation tasks imply complex contact interactions with the external world, and involve reasoning about the forces and torques to be applied. Planning under contact conditions is usually impractical due to computational complexity, and a lack of precise dynamics models of the environment. We present an approach to acquiring manipulation skills on compliant robots through reinforcement learning. The initial position control policy for manipulation is initialized through kinesthetic demonstration. We augment this policy with a force/torque profile to be controlled in combination with the position trajectories. We use the Policy Improvement with Path Integrals (PI2) algorithm to learn these force/torque profiles by optimizing a cost function that measures task success. We demonstrate our approach on the Barrett WAM robot arm equipped with a 6-DOF force/torque sensor on two different manipulation tasks: opening a door with a lever door handle, and picking up a pen off the table. We show that the learnt force control policies allow successful, robust execution of the tasks.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Control of legged robots with optimal distribution of contact forces

Righetti, L., Buchli, J., Mistry, M., Schaal, S.

In 2011 11th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots, pages: 318-324, IEEE, Bled, Slovenia, 2011 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The development of agile and safe humanoid robots require controllers that guarantee both high tracking performance and compliance with the environment. More specifically, the control of contact interaction is of crucial importance for robots that will actively interact with their environment. Model-based controllers such as inverse dynamics or operational space control are very appealing as they offer both high tracking performance and compliance. However, while widely used for fully actuated systems such as manipulators, they are not yet standard controllers for legged robots such as humanoids. Indeed such robots are fundamentally different from manipulators as they are underactuated due to their floating-base and subject to switching contact constraints. In this paper we present an inverse dynamics controller for legged robots that use torque redundancy to create an optimal distribution of contact constraints. The resulting controller is able to minimize, given a desired motion, any quadratic cost of the contact constraints at each instant of time. In particular we show how this can be used to minimize tangential forces during locomotion, therefore significantly improving the locomotion of legged robots on difficult terrains. In addition to the theoretical result, we present simulations of a humanoid and a quadruped robot, as well as experiments on a real quadruped robot that demonstrate the advantages of the controller.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Learning Motion Primitive Goals for Robust Manipulation

Stulp, F., Theodorou, E., Kalakrishnan, M., Pastor, P., Righetti, L., Schaal, S.

In IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 325-331, IEEE, San Francisco, USA, sep 2011 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Applying model-free reinforcement learning to manipulation remains challenging for several reasons. First, manipulation involves physical contact, which causes discontinuous cost functions. Second, in manipulation, the end-point of the movement must be chosen carefully, as it represents a grasp which must be adapted to the pose and shape of the object. Finally, there is uncertainty in the object pose, and even the most carefully planned movement may fail if the object is not at the expected position. To address these challenges we 1) present a simplified, computationally more efficient version of our model-free reinforcement learning algorithm PI2; 2) extend PI2 so that it simultaneously learns shape parameters and goal parameters of motion primitives; 3) use shape and goal learning to acquire motion primitives that are robust to object pose uncertainty. We evaluate these contributions on a manipulation platform consisting of a 7-DOF arm with a 4-DOF hand.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Inverse Dynamics Control of Floating-Base Robots with External Constraints: a Unified View

Righetti, L., Buchli, J., Mistry, M., Schaal, S.

In 2011 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, pages: 1085-1090, IEEE, Shanghai, China, 2011 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Inverse dynamics controllers and operational space controllers have proved to be very efficient for compliant control of fully actuated robots such as fixed base manipulators. However legged robots such as humanoids are inherently different as they are underactuated and subject to switching external contact constraints. Recently several methods have been proposed to create inverse dynamics controllers and operational space controllers for these robots. In an attempt to compare these different approaches, we develop a general framework for inverse dynamics control and show that these methods lead to very similar controllers. We are then able to greatly simplify recent whole-body controllers based on operational space approaches using kinematic projections, bringing them closer to efficient practical implementations. We also generalize these controllers such that they can be optimal under an arbitrary quadratic cost in the commands.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]