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2019


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On the Transfer of Inductive Bias from Simulation to the Real World: a New Disentanglement Dataset

Gondal, M. W., Wuthrich, M., Miladinovic, D., Locatello, F., Breidt, M., Volchkov, V., Akpo, J., Bachem, O., Schölkopf, B., Bauer, S.

Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 32, pages: 15714-15725, (Editors: H. Wallach and H. Larochelle and A. Beygelzimer and F. d’Alché-Buc and E. Fox and R. Garnett), Curran Associates, Inc., 33rd Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, December 2019 (conference)

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link (url) [BibTex]

2019


link (url) [BibTex]


Attacking Optical Flow
Attacking Optical Flow

Ranjan, A., Janai, J., Geiger, A., Black, M. J.

In International Conference on Computer Vision, November 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Deep neural nets achieve state-of-the-art performance on the problem of optical flow estimation. Since optical flow is used in several safety-critical applications like self-driving cars, it is important to gain insights into the robustness of those techniques. Recently, it has been shown that adversarial attacks easily fool deep neural networks to misclassify objects. The robustness of optical flow networks to adversarial attacks, however, has not been studied so far. In this paper, we extend adversarial patch attacks to optical flow networks and show that such attacks can compromise their performance. We show that corrupting a small patch of less than 1% of the image size can significantly affect optical flow estimates. Our attacks lead to noisy flow estimates that extend significantly beyond the region of the attack, in many cases even completely erasing the motion of objects in the scene. While networks using an encoder-decoder architecture are very sensitive to these attacks, we found that networks using a spatial pyramid architecture are less affected. We analyse the success and failure of attacking both architectures by visualizing their feature maps and comparing them to classical optical flow techniques which are robust to these attacks. We also demonstrate that such attacks are practical by placing a printed pattern into real scenes.

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Video Project Page Paper Supplementary Material link (url) [BibTex]

Video Project Page Paper Supplementary Material link (url) [BibTex]


Resolving {3D} Human Pose Ambiguities with {3D} Scene Constraints
Resolving 3D Human Pose Ambiguities with 3D Scene Constraints

Hassan, M., Choutas, V., Tzionas, D., Black, M. J.

In International Conference on Computer Vision, pages: 2282-2292, October 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
To understand and analyze human behavior, we need to capture humans moving in, and interacting with, the world. Most existing methods perform 3D human pose estimation without explicitly considering the scene. We observe however that the world constrains the body and vice-versa. To motivate this, we show that current 3D human pose estimation methods produce results that are not consistent with the 3D scene. Our key contribution is to exploit static 3D scene structure to better estimate human pose from monocular images. The method enforces Proximal Relationships with Object eXclusion and is called PROX. To test this, we collect a new dataset composed of 12 different 3D scenes and RGB sequences of 20 subjects moving in and interacting with the scenes. We represent human pose using the 3D human body model SMPL-X and extend SMPLify-X to estimate body pose using scene constraints. We make use of the 3D scene information by formulating two main constraints. The interpenetration constraint penalizes intersection between the body model and the surrounding 3D scene. The contact constraint encourages specific parts of the body to be in contact with scene surfaces if they are close enough in distance and orientation. For quantitative evaluation we capture a separate dataset with 180 RGB frames in which the ground-truth body pose is estimated using a motion-capture system. We show quantitatively that introducing scene constraints significantly reduces 3D joint error and vertex error. Our code and data are available for research at https://prox.is.tue.mpg.de.

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pdf poster link (url) [BibTex]

pdf poster link (url) [BibTex]


Learning to Reconstruct {3D} Human Pose and Shape via Model-fitting in the Loop
Learning to Reconstruct 3D Human Pose and Shape via Model-fitting in the Loop

Kolotouros, N., Pavlakos, G., Black, M. J., Daniilidis, K.

In International Conference on Computer Vision, October 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Model-based human pose estimation is currently approached through two different paradigms. Optimization-based methods fit a parametric body model to 2D observations in an iterative manner, leading to accurate image-model alignments, but are often slow and sensitive to the initialization. In contrast, regression-based methods, that use a deep network to directly estimate the model parameters from pixels, tend to provide reasonable, but not pixel accurate, results while requiring huge amounts of supervision. In this work, instead of investigating which approach is better, our key insight is that the two paradigms can form a strong collaboration. A reasonable, directly regressed estimate from the network can initialize the iterative optimization making the fitting faster and more accurate. Similarly, a pixel accurate fit from iterative optimization can act as strong supervision for the network. This is the core of our proposed approach SPIN (SMPL oPtimization IN the loop). The deep network initializes an iterative optimization routine that fits the body model to 2D joints within the training loop, and the fitted estimate is subsequently used to supervise the network. Our approach is self-improving by nature, since better network estimates can lead the optimization to better solutions, while more accurate optimization fits provide better supervision for the network. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach in different settings, where 3D ground truth is scarce, or not available, and we consistently outperform the state-of-the-art model-based pose estimation approaches by significant margins.

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pdf code project [BibTex]

pdf code project [BibTex]


Three-D Safari: Learning to Estimate Zebra Pose, Shape, and Texture from Images "In the Wild"
Three-D Safari: Learning to Estimate Zebra Pose, Shape, and Texture from Images "In the Wild"

Zuffi, S., Kanazawa, A., Berger-Wolf, T., Black, M. J.

In International Conference on Computer Vision, October 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We present the first method to perform automatic 3D pose, shape and texture capture of animals from images acquired in-the-wild. In particular, we focus on the problem of capturing 3D information about Grevy's zebras from a collection of images. The Grevy's zebra is one of the most endangered species in Africa, with only a few thousand individuals left. Capturing the shape and pose of these animals can provide biologists and conservationists with information about animal health and behavior. In contrast to research on human pose, shape and texture estimation, training data for endangered species is limited, the animals are in complex natural scenes with occlusion, they are naturally camouflaged, travel in herds, and look similar to each other. To overcome these challenges, we integrate the recent SMAL animal model into a network-based regression pipeline, which we train end-to-end on synthetically generated images with pose, shape, and background variation. Going beyond state-of-the-art methods for human shape and pose estimation, our method learns a shape space for zebras during training. Learning such a shape space from images using only a photometric loss is novel, and the approach can be used to learn shape in other settings with limited 3D supervision. Moreover, we couple 3D pose and shape prediction with the task of texture synthesis, obtaining a full texture map of the animal from a single image. We show that the predicted texture map allows a novel per-instance unsupervised optimization over the network features. This method, SMALST (SMAL with learned Shape and Texture) goes beyond previous work, which assumed manual keypoints and/or segmentation, to regress directly from pixels to 3D animal shape, pose and texture. Code and data are available at https://github.com/silviazuffi/smalst

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code pdf supmat iccv19 presentation Project Page [BibTex]


End-to-end Learning for Graph Decomposition
End-to-end Learning for Graph Decomposition

Song, J., Andres, B., Black, M., Hilliges, O., Tang, S.

In International Conference on Computer Vision, October 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Deep neural networks provide powerful tools for pattern recognition, while classical graph algorithms are widely used to solve combinatorial problems. In computer vision, many tasks combine elements of both pattern recognition and graph reasoning. In this paper, we study how to connect deep networks with graph decomposition into an end-to-end trainable framework. More specifically, the minimum cost multicut problem is first converted to an unconstrained binary cubic formulation where cycle consistency constraints are incorporated into the objective function. The new optimization problem can be viewed as a Conditional Random Field (CRF) in which the random variables are associated with the binary edge labels. Cycle constraints are introduced into the CRF as high-order potentials. A standard Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) provides the front-end features for the fully differentiable CRF. The parameters of both parts are optimized in an end-to-end manner. The efficacy of the proposed learning algorithm is demonstrated via experiments on clustering MNIST images and on the challenging task of real-world multi-people pose estimation.

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PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


Markerless Outdoor Human Motion Capture Using Multiple Autonomous Micro Aerial Vehicles
Markerless Outdoor Human Motion Capture Using Multiple Autonomous Micro Aerial Vehicles

Saini, N., Price, E., Tallamraju, R., Enficiaud, R., Ludwig, R., Martinović, I., Ahmad, A., Black, M.

In International Conference on Computer Vision, October 2019 (inproceedings) Accepted

Abstract
Capturing human motion in natural scenarios means moving motion capture out of the lab and into the wild. Typical approaches rely on fixed, calibrated, cameras and reflective markers on the body, significantly limiting the motions that can be captured. To make motion capture truly unconstrained, we describe the first fully autonomous outdoor capture system based on flying vehicles. We use multiple micro-aerial-vehicles(MAVs), each equipped with a monocular RGB camera, an IMU, and a GPS receiver module. These detect the person, optimize their position, and localize themselves approximately. We then develop a markerless motion capture method that is suitable for this challenging scenario with a distant subject, viewed from above, with approximately calibrated and moving cameras. We combine multiple state-of-the-art 2D joint detectors with a 3D human body model and a powerful prior on human pose. We jointly optimize for 3D body pose and camera pose to robustly fit the 2D measurements. To our knowledge, this is the first successful demonstration of outdoor, full-body, markerless motion capture from autonomous flying vehicles.

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Code Data Video Paper Manuscript Project Page [BibTex]


{AMASS}: Archive of Motion Capture as Surface Shapes
AMASS: Archive of Motion Capture as Surface Shapes

Mahmood, N., Ghorbani, N., Troje, N. F., Pons-Moll, G., Black, M. J.

International Conference on Computer Vision, pages: 5442-5451, October 2019 (conference)

Abstract
Large datasets are the cornerstone of recent advances in computer vision using deep learning. In contrast, existing human motion capture (mocap) datasets are small and the motions limited, hampering progress on learning models of human motion. While there are many different datasets available, they each use a different parameterization of the body, making it difficult to integrate them into a single meta dataset. To address this, we introduce AMASS, a large and varied database of human motion that unifies 15 different optical marker-based mocap datasets by representing them within a common framework and parameterization. We achieve this using a new method, MoSh++, that converts mocap data into realistic 3D human meshes represented by a rigged body model. Here we use SMPL [26], which is widely used and provides a standard skeletal representation as well as a fully rigged surface mesh. The method works for arbitrary marker-sets, while recovering soft-tissue dynamics and realistic hand motion. We evaluate MoSh++ and tune its hyper-parameters using a new dataset of 4D body scans that are jointly recorded with marker-based mocap. The consistent representation of AMASS makes it readily useful for animation, visualization, and generating training data for deep learning. Our dataset is significantly richer than previous human motion collections, having more than 40 hours of motion data, spanning over 300 subjects, more than 11000 motions, and is available for research at https://amass.is.tue.mpg.de/.

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code pdf suppl arxiv project website video poster AMASS_Poster [BibTex]


Learning to Train with Synthetic Humans
Learning to Train with Synthetic Humans

Hoffmann, D. T., Tzionas, D., Black, M. J., Tang, S.

In German Conference on Pattern Recognition (GCPR), September 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Neural networks need big annotated datasets for training. However, manual annotation can be too expensive or even unfeasible for certain tasks, like multi-person 2D pose estimation with severe occlusions. A remedy for this is synthetic data with perfect ground truth. Here we explore two variations of synthetic data for this challenging problem; a dataset with purely synthetic humans, as well as a real dataset augmented with synthetic humans. We then study which approach better generalizes to real data, as well as the influence of virtual humans in the training loss. We observe that not all synthetic samples are equally informative for training, while the informative samples are different for each training stage. To exploit this observation, we employ an adversarial student-teacher framework; the teacher improves the student by providing the hardest samples for its current state as a challenge. Experiments show that this student-teacher framework outperforms all our baselines.

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pdf suppl poster link (url) [BibTex]

pdf suppl poster link (url) [BibTex]


The Influence of Visual Perspective on Body Size Estimation in Immersive Virtual Reality
The Influence of Visual Perspective on Body Size Estimation in Immersive Virtual Reality

Thaler, A., Pujades, S., Stefanucci, J. K., Creem-Regehr, S. H., Tesch, J., Black, M. J., Mohler, B. J.

In ACM Symposium on Applied Perception, September 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The creation of realistic self-avatars that users identify with is important for many virtual reality applications. However, current approaches for creating biometrically plausible avatars that represent a particular individual require expertise and are time-consuming. We investigated the visual perception of an avatar’s body dimensions by asking males and females to estimate their own body weight and shape on a virtual body using a virtual reality avatar creation tool. In a method of adjustment task, the virtual body was presented in an HTC Vive head-mounted display either co-located with (first-person perspective) or facing (third-person perspective) the participants. Participants adjusted the body weight and dimensions of various body parts to match their own body shape and size. Both males and females underestimated their weight by 10-20% in the virtual body, but the estimates of the other body dimensions were relatively accurate and within a range of ±6%. There was a stronger influence of visual perspective on the estimates for males, but this effect was dependent on the amount of control over the shape of the virtual body, indicating that the results might be caused by where in the body the weight changes expressed themselves. These results suggest that this avatar creation tool could be used to allow participants to make a relatively accurate self-avatar in terms of adjusting body part dimensions, but not weight, and that the influence of visual perspective and amount of control needed over the body shape are likely gender-specific.

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pdf [BibTex]

pdf [BibTex]


Motion Planning for Multi-Mobile-Manipulator Payload Transport Systems
Motion Planning for Multi-Mobile-Manipulator Payload Transport Systems

Tallamraju, R., Salunkhe, D., Rajappa, S., Ahmad, A., Karlapalem, K., Shah, S. V.

In 15th IEEE International Conference on Automation Science and Engineering, IEEE, August 2019 (inproceedings) Accepted

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[BibTex]

[BibTex]


Competitive Collaboration: Joint Unsupervised Learning of Depth, Camera Motion, Optical Flow and Motion Segmentation
Competitive Collaboration: Joint Unsupervised Learning of Depth, Camera Motion, Optical Flow and Motion Segmentation

Ranjan, A., Jampani, V., Balles, L., Kim, K., Sun, D., Wulff, J., Black, M. J.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2019, June 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We address the unsupervised learning of several interconnected problems in low-level vision: single view depth prediction, camera motion estimation, optical flow, and segmentation of a video into the static scene and moving regions. Our key insight is that these four fundamental vision problems are coupled through geometric constraints. Consequently, learning to solve them together simplifies the problem because the solutions can reinforce each other. We go beyond previous work by exploiting geometry more explicitly and segmenting the scene into static and moving regions. To that end, we introduce Competitive Collaboration, a framework that facilitates the coordinated training of multiple specialized neural networks to solve complex problems. Competitive Collaboration works much like expectation-maximization, but with neural networks that act as both competitors to explain pixels that correspond to static or moving regions, and as collaborators through a moderator that assigns pixels to be either static or independently moving. Our novel method integrates all these problems in a common framework and simultaneously reasons about the segmentation of the scene into moving objects and the static background, the camera motion, depth of the static scene structure, and the optical flow of moving objects. Our model is trained without any supervision and achieves state-of-the-art performance among joint unsupervised methods on all sub-problems.

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Paper link (url) Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

Paper link (url) Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


Local Temporal Bilinear Pooling for Fine-grained Action Parsing
Local Temporal Bilinear Pooling for Fine-grained Action Parsing

Zhang, Y., Tang, S., Muandet, K., Jarvers, C., Neumann, H.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2019, June 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Fine-grained temporal action parsing is important in many applications, such as daily activity understanding, human motion analysis, surgical robotics and others requiring subtle and precise operations in a long-term period. In this paper we propose a novel bilinear pooling operation, which is used in intermediate layers of a temporal convolutional encoder-decoder net. In contrast to other work, our proposed bilinear pooling is learnable and hence can capture more complex local statistics than the conventional counterpart. In addition, we introduce exact lower-dimension representations of our bilinear forms, so that the dimensionality is reduced with neither information loss nor extra computation. We perform intensive experiments to quantitatively analyze our model and show the superior performances to other state-of-the-art work on various datasets.

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Code video demo pdf link (url) [BibTex]

Code video demo pdf link (url) [BibTex]


Learning Joint Reconstruction of Hands and Manipulated Objects
Learning Joint Reconstruction of Hands and Manipulated Objects

Hasson, Y., Varol, G., Tzionas, D., Kalevatykh, I., Black, M. J., Laptev, I., Schmid, C.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), pages: 11807-11816, IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2019, June 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Estimating hand-object manipulations is essential for interpreting and imitating human actions. Previous work has made significant progress towards reconstruction of hand poses and object shapes in isolation. Yet, reconstructing hands and objects during manipulation is a more challenging task due to significant occlusions of both the hand and object. While presenting challenges, manipulations may also simplify the problem since the physics of contact restricts the space of valid hand-object configurations. For example, during manipulation, the hand and object should be in contact but not interpenetrate. In this work, we regularize the joint reconstruction of hands and objects with manipulation constraints. We present an end-to-end learnable model that exploits a novel contact loss that favors physically plausible hand-object constellations. Our approach improves grasp quality metrics over baselines, using RGB images as input. To train and evaluate the model, we also propose a new large-scale synthetic dataset, ObMan, with hand-object manipulations. We demonstrate the transferability of ObMan-trained models to real data.

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pdf suppl poster link (url) Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

pdf suppl poster link (url) Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


Learning to Regress 3D Face Shape and Expression from an Image without 3D Supervision
Learning to Regress 3D Face Shape and Expression from an Image without 3D Supervision

Sanyal, S., Bolkart, T., Feng, H., Black, M. J.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), pages: 7763-7772, IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2019, June 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The estimation of 3D face shape from a single image must be robust to variations in lighting, head pose, expression, facial hair, makeup, and occlusions. Robustness requires a large training set of in-the-wild images, which by construction, lack ground truth 3D shape. To train a network without any 2D-to-3D supervision, we present RingNet, which learns to compute 3D face shape from a single image. Our key observation is that an individual’s face shape is constant across images, regardless of expression, pose, lighting, etc. RingNet leverages multiple images of a person and automatically detected 2D face features. It uses a novel loss that encourages the face shape to be similar when the identity is the same and different for different people. We achieve invariance to expression by representing the face using the FLAME model. Once trained, our method takes a single image and outputs the parameters of FLAME, which can be readily animated. Additionally we create a new database of faces “not quite in-the-wild” (NoW) with 3D head scans and high-resolution images of the subjects in a wide variety of conditions. We evaluate publicly available methods and find that RingNet is more accurate than methods that use 3D supervision. The dataset, model, and results are available for research purposes.

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code pdf preprint link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

code pdf preprint link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


Expressive Body Capture: 3D Hands, Face, and Body from a Single Image
Expressive Body Capture: 3D Hands, Face, and Body from a Single Image

Pavlakos, G., Choutas, V., Ghorbani, N., Bolkart, T., Osman, A. A. A., Tzionas, D., Black, M. J.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), pages: 10975-10985, IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2019, June 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
To facilitate the analysis of human actions, interactions and emotions, we compute a 3D model of human body pose, hand pose, and facial expression from a single monocular image. To achieve this, we use thousands of 3D scans to train a new, unified, 3D model of the human body, SMPL-X, that extends SMPL with fully articulated hands and an expressive face. Learning to regress the parameters of SMPL-X directly from images is challenging without paired images and 3D ground truth. Consequently, we follow the approach of SMPLify, which estimates 2D features and then optimizes model parameters to fit the features. We improve on SMPLify in several significant ways: (1) we detect 2D features corresponding to the face, hands, and feet and fit the full SMPL-X model to these; (2) we train a new neural network pose prior using a large MoCap dataset; (3) we define a new interpenetration penalty that is both fast and accurate; (4) we automatically detect gender and the appropriate body models (male, female, or neutral); (5) our PyTorch implementation achieves a speedup of more than 8x over Chumpy. We use the new method, SMPLify-X, to fit SMPL-X to both controlled images and images in the wild. We evaluate 3D accuracy on a new curated dataset comprising 100 images with pseudo ground-truth. This is a step towards automatic expressive human capture from monocular RGB data. The models, code, and data are available for research purposes at https://smpl-x.is.tue.mpg.de.

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video code pdf suppl poster link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

video code pdf suppl poster link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


Capture, Learning, and Synthesis of 3D Speaking Styles
Capture, Learning, and Synthesis of 3D Speaking Styles

Cudeiro, D., Bolkart, T., Laidlaw, C., Ranjan, A., Black, M. J.

In Proceedings IEEE Conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), pages: 10101-10111, IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) 2019, June 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Audio-driven 3D facial animation has been widely explored, but achieving realistic, human-like performance is still unsolved. This is due to the lack of available 3D datasets, models, and standard evaluation metrics. To address this, we introduce a unique 4D face dataset with about 29 minutes of 4D scans captured at 60 fps and synchronized audio from 12 speakers. We then train a neural network on our dataset that factors identity from facial motion. The learned model, VOCA (Voice Operated Character Animation) takes any speech signal as input—even speech in languages other than English—and realistically animates a wide range of adult faces. Conditioning on subject labels during training allows the model to learn a variety of realistic speaking styles. VOCA also provides animator controls to alter speaking style, identity-dependent facial shape, and pose (i.e. head, jaw, and eyeball rotations) during animation. To our knowledge, VOCA is the only realistic 3D facial animation model that is readily applicable to unseen subjects without retargeting. This makes VOCA suitable for tasks like in-game video, virtual reality avatars, or any scenario in which the speaker, speech, or language is not known in advance. We make the dataset and model available for research purposes at http://voca.is.tue.mpg.de.

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code Project Page video paper [BibTex]

code Project Page video paper [BibTex]


Accurate Vision-based Manipulation through Contact Reasoning
Accurate Vision-based Manipulation through Contact Reasoning

Kloss, A., Bauza, M., Wu, J., Tenenbaum, J. B., Rodriguez, A., Bohg, J.

In International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2019 (inproceedings) Accepted

Abstract
Planning contact interactions is one of the core challenges of many robotic tasks. Optimizing contact locations while taking dynamics into account is computationally costly and in only partially observed environments, executing contact-based tasks often suffers from low accuracy. We present an approach that addresses these two challenges for the problem of vision-based manipulation. First, we propose to disentangle contact from motion optimization. Thereby, we improve planning efficiency by focusing computation on promising contact locations. Second, we use a hybrid approach for perception and state estimation that combines neural networks with a physically meaningful state representation. In simulation and real-world experiments on the task of planar pushing, we show that our method is more efficient and achieves a higher manipulation accuracy than previous vision-based approaches.

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Video link (url) [BibTex]

Video link (url) [BibTex]


Learning Latent Space Dynamics for Tactile Servoing
Learning Latent Space Dynamics for Tactile Servoing

Sutanto, G., Ratliff, N., Sundaralingam, B., Chebotar, Y., Su, Z., Handa, A., Fox, D.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2019, IEEE, International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2019 (inproceedings) Accepted

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pdf video [BibTex]

pdf video [BibTex]


Leveraging Contact Forces for Learning to Grasp
Leveraging Contact Forces for Learning to Grasp

Merzic, H., Bogdanovic, M., Kappler, D., Righetti, L., Bohg, J.

In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) 2019, IEEE, International Conference on Robotics and Automation, May 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Grasping objects under uncertainty remains an open problem in robotics research. This uncertainty is often due to noisy or partial observations of the object pose or shape. To enable a robot to react appropriately to unforeseen effects, it is crucial that it continuously takes sensor feedback into account. While visual feedback is important for inferring a grasp pose and reaching for an object, contact feedback offers valuable information during manipulation and grasp acquisition. In this paper, we use model-free deep reinforcement learning to synthesize control policies that exploit contact sensing to generate robust grasping under uncertainty. We demonstrate our approach on a multi-fingered hand that exhibits more complex finger coordination than the commonly used two- fingered grippers. We conduct extensive experiments in order to assess the performance of the learned policies, with and without contact sensing. While it is possible to learn grasping policies without contact sensing, our results suggest that contact feedback allows for a significant improvement of grasping robustness under object pose uncertainty and for objects with a complex shape.

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video arXiv [BibTex]

video arXiv [BibTex]


Resisting Adversarial Attacks using Gaussian Mixture Variational Autoencoders
Resisting Adversarial Attacks using Gaussian Mixture Variational Autoencoders

Ghosh, P., Losalka, A., Black, M. J.

In Proc. AAAI, 2019 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Susceptibility of deep neural networks to adversarial attacks poses a major theoretical and practical challenge. All efforts to harden classifiers against such attacks have seen limited success till now. Two distinct categories of samples against which deep neural networks are vulnerable, ``adversarial samples" and ``fooling samples", have been tackled separately so far due to the difficulty posed when considered together. In this work, we show how one can defend against them both under a unified framework. Our model has the form of a variational autoencoder with a Gaussian mixture prior on the latent variable, such that each mixture component corresponds to a single class. We show how selective classification can be performed using this model, thereby causing the adversarial objective to entail a conflict. The proposed method leads to the rejection of adversarial samples instead of misclassification, while maintaining high precision and recall on test data. It also inherently provides a way of learning a selective classifier in a semi-supervised scenario, which can similarly resist adversarial attacks. We further show how one can reclassify the detected adversarial samples by iterative optimization.

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link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

2011


Home {3D} body scans from noisy image and range data
Home 3D body scans from noisy image and range data

Weiss, A., Hirshberg, D., Black, M.

In Int. Conf. on Computer Vision (ICCV), pages: 1951-1958, IEEE, Barcelona, November 2011 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The 3D shape of the human body is useful for applications in fitness, games and apparel. Accurate body scanners, however, are expensive, limiting the availability of 3D body models. We present a method for human shape reconstruction from noisy monocular image and range data using a single inexpensive commodity sensor. The approach combines low-resolution image silhouettes with coarse range data to estimate a parametric model of the body. Accurate 3D shape estimates are obtained by combining multiple monocular views of a person moving in front of the sensor. To cope with varying body pose, we use a SCAPE body model which factors 3D body shape and pose variations. This enables the estimation of a single consistent shape while allowing pose to vary. Additionally, we describe a novel method to minimize the distance between the projected 3D body contour and the image silhouette that uses analytic derivatives of the objective function. We propose a simple method to estimate standard body measurements from the recovered SCAPE model and show that the accuracy of our method is competitive with commercial body scanning systems costing orders of magnitude more.

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pdf YouTube poster Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

2011


pdf YouTube poster Project Page Project Page [BibTex]


Evaluating the Automated Alignment of {3D} Human Body Scans
Evaluating the Automated Alignment of 3D Human Body Scans

Hirshberg, D. A., Loper, M., Rachlin, E., Tsoli, A., Weiss, A., Corner, B., Black, M. J.

In 2nd International Conference on 3D Body Scanning Technologies, pages: 76-86, (Editors: D’Apuzzo, Nicola), Hometrica Consulting, Lugano, Switzerland, October 2011 (inproceedings)

Abstract
The statistical analysis of large corpora of human body scans requires that these scans be in alignment, either for a small set of key landmarks or densely for all the vertices in the scan. Existing techniques tend to rely on hand-placed landmarks or algorithms that extract landmarks from scans. The former is time consuming and subjective while the latter is error prone. Here we show that a model-based approach can align meshes automatically, producing alignment accuracy similar to that of previous methods that rely on many landmarks. Specifically, we align a low-resolution, artist-created template body mesh to many high-resolution laser scans. Our alignment procedure employs a robust iterative closest point method with a regularization that promotes smooth and locally rigid deformation of the template mesh. We evaluate our approach on 50 female body models from the CAESAR dataset that vary significantly in body shape. To make the method fully automatic, we define simple feature detectors for the head and ankles, which provide initial landmark locations. We find that, if body poses are fairly similar, as in CAESAR, the fully automated method provides dense alignments that enable statistical analysis and anthropometric measurement.

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pdf slides DOI Project Page [BibTex]

pdf slides DOI Project Page [BibTex]


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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.

am

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]

link (url) Project Page [BibTex]


Recovering Intrinsic Images with a Global Sparsity Prior on Reflectance
Recovering Intrinsic Images with a Global Sparsity Prior on Reflectance

Gehler, P., Rother, C., Kiefel, M., Zhang, L., Schölkopf, B.

In Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 24, pages: 765-773, (Editors: Shawe-Taylor, John and Zemel, Richard S. and Bartlett, Peter L. and Pereira, Fernando C. N. and Weinberger, Kilian Q.), Curran Associates, Inc., Red Hook, NY, USA, Twenty-Fifth Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS), 2011 (inproceedings)

Abstract
We address the challenging task of decoupling material properties from lighting properties given a single image. In the last two decades virtually all works have concentrated on exploiting edge information to address this problem. We take a different route by introducing a new prior on reflectance, that models reflectance values as being drawn from a sparse set of basis colors. This results in a Random Field model with global, latent variables (basis colors) and pixel-accurate output reflectance values. We show that without edge information high-quality results can be achieved, that are on par with methods exploiting this source of information. Finally, we are able to improve on state-of-the-art results by integrating edge information into our model. We believe that our new approach is an excellent starting point for future developments in this field.

ei ps

website + code pdf poster Project Page Project Page [BibTex]

website + code pdf poster Project Page Project Page [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.

am

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.

am

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.

am

PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


Combining wireless neural recording and video capture for the analysis of natural gait
Combining wireless neural recording and video capture for the analysis of natural gait

Foster, J., Freifeld, O., Nuyujukian, P., Ryu, S., Black, M. J., Shenoy, K.

In Proc. 5th Int. IEEE EMBS Conf. on Neural Engineering, pages: 613-616, IEEE, 2011 (inproceedings)

ps

pdf Project Page [BibTex]

pdf Project Page [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.

am mg

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]


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Movement segmentation using a primitive library

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

In IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS 2011), Sept. 25-30, San Francisco, CA, 2011, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Segmenting complex movements into a sequence of primitives remains a difficult problem with many applications in the robotics and vision communities. In this work, we show how the movement segmentation problem can be reduced to a sequential movement recognition problem. To this end, we reformulate the orig-inal Dynamic Movement Primitive (DMP) formulation as a linear dynamical sys-tem with control inputs. Based on this new formulation, we develop an Expecta-tion-Maximization algorithm to estimate the duration and goal position of a par-tially observed trajectory. With the help of this algorithm and the assumption that a library of movement primitives is present, we present a movement seg-mentation framework. We illustrate the usefulness of the new DMP formulation on the two applications of online movement recognition and movement segmen-tation.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


Shape and pose-invariant correspondences using probabilistic geodesic surface embedding
Shape and pose-invariant correspondences using probabilistic geodesic surface embedding

Tsoli, A., Black, M. J.

In 33rd Annual Symposium of the German Association for Pattern Recognition (DAGM), 6835, pages: 256-265, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, (Editors: Mester, Rudolf and Felsberg, Michael), Springer, 2011 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Correspondence between non-rigid deformable 3D objects provides a foundation for object matching and retrieval, recognition, and 3D alignment. Establishing 3D correspondence is challenging when there are non-rigid deformations or articulations between instances of a class. We present a method for automatically finding such correspondences that deals with significant variations in pose, shape and resolution between pairs of objects.We represent objects as triangular meshes and consider normalized geodesic distances as representing their intrinsic characteristics. Geodesic distances are invariant to pose variations and nearly invariant to shape variations when properly normalized. The proposed method registers two objects by optimizing a joint probabilistic model over a subset of vertex pairs between the objects. The model enforces preservation of geodesic distances between corresponding vertex pairs and inference is performed using loopy belief propagation in a hierarchical scheme. Additionally our method prefers solutions in which local shape information is consistent at matching vertices. We quantitatively evaluate our method and show that is is more accurate than a state of the art method.

ps

pdf talk Project Page [BibTex]

pdf talk Project Page [BibTex]


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Online movement adaptation based on previous sensor experiences

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

In 2011 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, pages: 365-371, IEEE, San Francisco, USA, sep 2011 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Personal robots can only become widespread if they are capable of safely operating among humans. In uncertain and highly dynamic environments such as human households, robots need to be able to instantly adapt their behavior to unforseen events. In this paper, we propose a general framework to achieve very contact-reactive motions for robotic grasping and manipulation. Associating stereotypical movements to particular tasks enables our system to use previous sensor experiences as a predictive model for subsequent task executions. We use dynamical systems, named Dynamic Movement Primitives (DMPs), to learn goal-directed behaviors from demonstration. We exploit their dynamic properties by coupling them with the measured and predicted sensor traces. This feedback loop allows for online adaptation of the movement plan. Our system can create a rich set of possible motions that account for external perturbations and perception uncertainty to generate truly robust behaviors. As an example, we present an application to grasping with the WAM robot arm.

am mg

link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Additional DOFs and sensors for bio-inspired locomotion: Towards active spine, ankle joints, and feet for a quadruped robot

Kuehn, D., Grimminger, F., Beinersdorf, F., Bernhard, F., Burchardt, A., Schilling, M., Simnofske, M., Stark, T., Zenzes, M., Kirchner, F.

In 2011 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Biomimetics, pages: 2780-2786, December 2011 (inproceedings)

am

DOI [BibTex]

DOI [BibTex]


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Learning to grasp under uncertainty

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

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

Abstract
We present an approach that enables robots to learn motion primitives that are robust towards state estimation uncertainties. During reaching and preshaping, the robot learns to use fine manipulation strategies to maneuver the object into a pose at which closing the hand to perform the grasp is more likely to succeed. In contrast, common assumptions in grasp planning and motion planning for reaching are that these tasks can be performed independently, and that the robot has perfect knowledge of the pose of the objects in the environment. We implement our approach using Dynamic Movement Primitives and the probabilistic model-free reinforcement learning algorithm Policy Improvement with Path Integrals (PI2 ). The cost function that PI2 optimizes is a simple boolean that penalizes failed grasps. The key to acquiring robust motion primitives is to sample the actual pose of the object from a distribution that represents the state estimation uncertainty. During learning, the robot will thus optimize the chance of grasping an object from this distribution, rather than at one specific pose. In our empirical evaluation, we demonstrate how the motion primitives become more robust when grasping simple cylindrical objects, as well as more complex, non-convex objects. We also investigate how well the learned motion primitives generalize towards new object positions and other state estimation uncertainty distributions.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]

2010


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Reinforcement learning of full-body humanoid motor skills

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

In Humanoid Robots (Humanoids), 2010 10th IEEE-RAS International Conference on, pages: 405-410, December 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Applying reinforcement learning to humanoid robots is challenging because humanoids have a large number of degrees of freedom and state and action spaces are continuous. Thus, most reinforcement learning algorithms would become computationally infeasible and require a prohibitive amount of trials to explore such high-dimensional spaces. In this paper, we present a probabilistic reinforcement learning approach, which is derived from the framework of stochastic optimal control and path integrals. The algorithm, called Policy Improvement with Path Integrals (PI2), has a surprisingly simple form, has no open tuning parameters besides the exploration noise, is model-free, and performs numerically robustly in high dimensional learning problems. We demonstrate how PI2 is able to learn full-body motor skills on a 34-DOF humanoid robot. To demonstrate the generality of our approach, we also apply PI2 in the context of variable impedance control, where both planned trajectories and gain schedules for each joint are optimized simultaneously.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

2010


link (url) [BibTex]


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Relative Entropy Policy Search

Peters, J., Mülling, K., Altun, Y.

In Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, pages: 1607-1612, (Editors: Fox, M. , D. Poole), AAAI Press, Menlo Park, CA, USA, Twenty-Fourth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-10), July 2010 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Policy search is a successful approach to reinforcement learning. However, policy improvements often result in the loss of information. Hence, it has been marred by premature convergence and implausible solutions. As first suggested in the context of covariant policy gradients (Bagnell and Schneider 2003), many of these problems may be addressed by constraining the information loss. In this paper, we continue this path of reasoning and suggest the Relative Entropy Policy Search (REPS) method. The resulting method differs significantly from previous policy gradient approaches and yields an exact update step. It works well on typical reinforcement learning benchmark problems.

am ei

PDF Web [BibTex]

PDF Web [BibTex]


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Reinforcement learning of motor skills in high dimensions: A path integral approach

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

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2010 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 2397-2403, May 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Reinforcement learning (RL) is one of the most general approaches to learning control. Its applicability to complex motor systems, however, has been largely impossible so far due to the computational difficulties that reinforcement learning encounters in high dimensional continuous state-action spaces. In this paper, we derive a novel approach to RL for parameterized control policies based on the framework of stochastic optimal control with path integrals. While solidly grounded in optimal control theory and estimation theory, the update equations for learning are surprisingly simple and have no danger of numerical instabilities as neither matrix inversions nor gradient learning rates are required. Empirical evaluations demonstrate significant performance improvements over gradient-based policy learning and scalability to high-dimensional control problems. Finally, a learning experiment on a robot dog illustrates the functionality of our algorithm in a real-world scenario. We believe that our new algorithm, Policy Improvement with Path Integrals (PI2), offers currently one of the most efficient, numerically robust, and easy to implement algorithms for RL in robotics.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Inverse dynamics control of floating base systems using orthogonal decomposition

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

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2010 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 3406-3412, May 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Model-based control methods can be used to enable fast, dexterous, and compliant motion of robots without sacrificing control accuracy. However, implementing such techniques on floating base robots, e.g., humanoids and legged systems, is non-trivial due to under-actuation, dynamically changing constraints from the environment, and potentially closed loop kinematics. In this paper, we show how to compute the analytically correct inverse dynamics torques for model-based control of sufficiently constrained floating base rigid-body systems, such as humanoid robots with one or two feet in contact with the environment. While our previous inverse dynamics approach relied on an estimation of contact forces to compute an approximate inverse dynamics solution, here we present an analytically correct solution by using an orthogonal decomposition to project the robot dynamics onto a reduced dimensional space, independent of contact forces. We demonstrate the feasibility and robustness of our approach on a simulated floating base bipedal humanoid robot and an actual robot dog locomoting over rough terrain.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Fast, robust quadruped locomotion over challenging terrain

Kalakrishnan, M., Buchli, J., Pastor, P., Mistry, M., Schaal, S.

In Robotics and Automation (ICRA), 2010 IEEE International Conference on, pages: 2665-2670, May 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
We present a control architecture for fast quadruped locomotion over rough terrain. We approach the problem by decomposing it into many sub-systems, in which we apply state-of-the-art learning, planning, optimization and control techniques to achieve robust, fast locomotion. Unique features of our control strategy include: (1) a system that learns optimal foothold choices from expert demonstration using terrain templates, (2) a body trajectory optimizer based on the Zero-Moment Point (ZMP) stability criterion, and (3) a floating-base inverse dynamics controller that, in conjunction with force control, allows for robust, compliant locomotion over unperceived obstacles. We evaluate the performance of our controller by testing it on the LittleDog quadruped robot, over a wide variety of rough terrain of varying difficulty levels. We demonstrate the generalization ability of this controller by presenting test results from an independent external test team on terrains that have never been shown to us.

am

link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]


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Are reaching movements planned in kinematic or dynamic coordinates?

Ellmer, A., Schaal, S.

In Abstracts of Neural Control of Movement Conference (NCM 2010), Naples, Florida, 2010, 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Whether human reaching movements are planned and optimized in kinematic (task space) or dynamic (joint or muscle space) coordinates is still an issue of debate. The first hypothesis implies that a planner produces a desired end-effector position at each point in time during the reaching movement, whereas the latter hypothesis includes the dynamics of the muscular-skeletal control system to produce a continuous end-effector trajectory. Previous work by Wolpert et al (1995) showed that when subjects were led to believe that their straight reaching paths corresponded to curved paths as shown on a computer screen, participants adapted the true path of their hand such that they would visually perceive a straight line in visual space, despite that they actually produced a curved path. These results were interpreted as supporting the stance that reaching trajectories are planned in kinematic coordinates. However, this experiment could only demonstrate that adaptation to altered paths, i.e. the position of the end-effector, did occur, but not that the precise timing of end-effector position was equally planned, i.e., the trajectory. Our current experiment aims at filling this gap by explicitly testing whether position over time, i.e. velocity, is a property of reaching movements that is planned in kinematic coordinates. In the current experiment, the velocity profiles of cursor movements corresponding to the participant's hand motions were skewed either to the left or to the right; the path itself was left unaltered. We developed an adaptation paradigm, where the skew of the velocity profile was introduced gradually and participants reported no awareness of any manipulation. Preliminary results indicate that the true hand motion of participants did not alter, i.e. there was no adaptation so as to counterbalance the introduced skew. However, for some participants, peak hand velocities were lowered for higher skews, which suggests that participants interpreted the manipulation as mere noise due to variance in their own movement. In summary, for a visuomotor transformation task, the hypothesis of a planned continuous end-effector trajectory predicts adaptation to a modified velocity profile. The current experiment found no systematic adaptation under such transformation, but did demonstrate an effect that is more in accordance that subjects could not perceive the manipulation and rather interpreted as an increase of noise.

am

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Optimality in Neuromuscular Systems

Theodorou, E. A., Valero-Cuevas, F.

In 32nd Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Abstract? We provide an overview of optimal control meth- ods to nonlinear neuromuscular systems and discuss their lim- itations. Moreover we extend current optimal control methods to their application to neuromuscular models with realistically numerous musculotendons; as most prior work is limited to torque-driven systems. Recent work on computational motor control has explored the used of control theory and esti- mation as a conceptual tool to understand the underlying computational principles of neuromuscular systems. After all, successful biological systems regularly meet conditions for stability, robustness and performance for multiple classes of complex tasks. Among a variety of proposed control theory frameworks to explain this, stochastic optimal control has become a dominant framework to the point of being a standard computational technique to reproduce kinematic trajectories of reaching movements (see [12]) In particular, we demonstrate the application of optimal control to a neuromuscular model of the index finger with all seven musculotendons producing a tapping task. Our simu- lations include 1) a muscle model that includes force- length and force-velocity characteristics; 2) an anatomically plausible biomechanical model of the index finger that includes a tendi- nous network for the extensor mechanism and 3) a contact model that is based on a nonlinear spring-damper attached at the end effector of the index finger. We demonstrate that it is feasible to apply optimal control to systems with realistically large state vectors and conclude that, while optimal control is an adequate formalism to create computational models of neuro- musculoskeletal systems, there remain important challenges and limitations that need to be considered and overcome such as contact transitions, curse of dimensionality, and constraints on states and controls.

am

PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Learning Policy Improvements with Path Integrals

Theodorou, E. A., Buchli, J., Schaal, S.

In International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics (AISTATS 2010), 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
With the goal to generate more scalable algo- rithms with higher efficiency and fewer open parameters, reinforcement learning (RL) has recently moved towards combining classi- cal techniques from optimal control and dy- namic programming with modern learning techniques from statistical estimation the- ory. In this vein, this paper suggests the framework of stochastic optimal control with path integrals to derive a novel approach to RL with parametrized policies. While solidly grounded in value function estimation and optimal control based on the stochastic Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellman (HJB) equations, policy improvements can be transformed into an approximation problem of a path inte- gral which has no open parameters other than the exploration noise. The resulting algorithm can be conceived of as model- based, semi-model-based, or even model free, depending on how the learning problem is structured. Our new algorithm demon- strates interesting similarities with previous RL research in the framework of proba- bility matching and provides intuition why the slightly heuristically motivated proba- bility matching approach can actually per- form well. Empirical evaluations demon- strate significant performance improvements over gradient-based policy learning and scal- ability to high-dimensional control problems. We believe that Policy Improvement with Path Integrals (PI2) offers currently one of the most efficient, numerically robust, and easy to implement algorithms for RL based on trajectory roll-outs.

am

PDF [BibTex]

PDF [BibTex]


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Learning optimal control solutions: a path integral approach

Theodorou, E., Schaal, S.

In Abstracts of Neural Control of Movement Conference (NCM 2010), Naples, Florida, 2010, 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
Investigating principles of human motor control in the framework of optimal control has had a long tradition in neural control of movement, and has recently experienced a new surge of investigations. Ideally, optimal control problems are addresses as a reinforcement learning (RL) problem, which would allow to investigate both the process of acquiring an optimal control solution as well as the solution itself. Unfortunately, the applicability of RL to complex neural and biomechanics systems has been largely impossible so far due to the computational difficulties that arise in high dimensional continuous state-action spaces. As a way out, research has focussed on computing optimal control solutions based on iterative optimal control methods that are based on linear and quadratic approximations of dynamical models and cost functions. These methods require perfect knowledge of the dynamics and cost functions while they are based on gradient and Newton optimization schemes. Their applicability is also restricted to low dimensional problems due to problematic convergence in high dimensions. Moreover, the process of computing the optimal solution is removed from the learning process that might be plausible in biology. In this work, we present a new reinforcement learning method for learning optimal control solutions or motor control. This method, based on the framework of stochastic optimal control with path integrals, has a very solid theoretical foundation, while resulting in surprisingly simple learning algorithms. It is also possible to apply this approach without knowledge of the system model, and to use a wide variety of complex nonlinear cost functions for optimization. We illustrate the theoretical properties of this approach and its applicability to learning motor control tasks for reaching movements and locomotion studies. We discuss its applicability to learning desired trajectories, variable stiffness control (co-contraction), and parameterized control policies. We also investigate the applicability to signal dependent noise control systems. We believe that the suggested method offers one of the easiest to use approaches to learning optimal control suggested in the literature so far, which makes it ideally suited for computational investigations of biological motor control.

am

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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A highly integrated low pressure fluid servo-valve for applications in wearable robotic systems

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

In ICINCO 2010 - Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Informatics in Control, Automation and Robotics, 2, pages: 72-78, 2010 (inproceedings)

Abstract
In this paper an innovative low pressure servo-valve is presented. The device was designed with the main aim to be easily integrable into complex hydraulic/pneumatic actuation systems, and to operate at relatively low pressure (<50·105Pa). Characteristics like compactness, lightweight, high bandwidth, and autonomous sensory capability, where considered during the design process in order to achieve a device that fulfills the basic requirements for a wearable robotic system. Preliminary results about the prototype performances are presented here, in particular its dynamic behavior was measured for different working conditions, and a non-linear model identified using a recursive Hammerstein-Wiener parameter adaptation algorithm.

am

[BibTex]

[BibTex]


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Constrained Accelerations for Controlled Geometric Reduction: Sagittal-Plane Decoupling for Bipedal Locomotion

Gregg, R., Righetti, L., Buchli, J., Schaal, S.

In 2010 10th IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots, pages: 1-7, IEEE, Nashville, USA, 2010 (inproceedings)

Abstract
Energy-shaping control methods have produced strong theoretical results for asymptotically stable 3D bipedal dynamic walking in the literature. In particular, geometric controlled reduction exploits robot symmetries to control momentum conservation laws that decouple the sagittal-plane dynamics, which are easier to stabilize. However, the associated control laws require high-dimensional matrix inverses multiplied with complicated energy-shaping terms, often making these control theories difficult to apply to highly-redundant humanoid robots. This paper presents a first step towards the application of energy-shaping methods on real robots by casting controlled reduction into a framework of constrained accelerations for inverse dynamics control. By representing momentum conservation laws as constraints in acceleration space, we construct a general expression for desired joint accelerations that render the constraint surface invariant. By appropriately choosing an orthogonal projection, we show that the unconstrained (reduced) dynamics are decoupled from the constrained dynamics. Any acceleration-based controller can then be used to stabilize this planar subsystem, including passivity-based methods. The resulting control law is surprisingly simple and represents a practical way to employ control theoretic stability results in robotic platforms. Simulated walking of a 3D compass-gait biped show correspondence between the new and original controllers, and simulated motions of a 16-DOF humanoid demonstrate the applicability of this method.

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link (url) DOI [BibTex]

link (url) DOI [BibTex]


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Variable impedance control - a reinforcement learning approach

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

In Robotics Science and Systems (2010), Zaragoza, Spain, June 27-30, 2010, clmc (inproceedings)

Abstract
One of the hallmarks of the performance, versatility, and robustness of biological motor control is the ability to adapt the impedance of the overall biomechanical system to different task requirements and stochastic disturbances. A transfer of this principle to robotics is desirable, for instance to enable robots to work robustly and safely in everyday human environments. It is, however, not trivial to derive variable impedance controllers for practical high DOF robotic tasks. In this contribution, we accomplish such gain scheduling with a reinforcement learning approach algorithm, PI2 (Policy Improvement with Path Integrals). PI2 is a model-free, sampling based learning method derived from first principles of optimal control. The PI2 algorithm requires no tuning of algorithmic parameters besides the exploration noise. The designer can thus fully focus on cost function design to specify the task. From the viewpoint of robotics, a particular useful property of PI2 is that it can scale to problems of many DOFs, so that RL on real robotic systems becomes feasible. We sketch the PI2 algorithm and its theoretical properties, and how it is applied to gain scheduling. We evaluate our approach by presenting results on two different simulated robotic systems, a 3-DOF Phantom Premium Robot and a 6-DOF Kuka Lightweight Robot. We investigate tasks where the optimal strategy requires both tuning of the impedance of the end-effector, and tuning of a reference trajectory. The results show that we can use path integral based RL not only for planning but also to derive variable gain feedback controllers in realistic scenarios. Thus, the power of variable impedance control is made available to a wide variety of robotic systems and practical applications.

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link (url) [BibTex]

link (url) [BibTex]