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  1. The difficulty in specifying rewards for many real world problems has led to an increased focus on learning rewards from human feedback, such as demonstrations. However, there are often many different reward functions that explain the human feedback, leaving agents with uncertainty over what the true reward function is. While most policy optimization approaches handle this uncertainty by optimizing for expected performance, many applications demand risk-averse behavior. We derive a novel policy gradient-style robust optimization approach, PG-BROIL, that optimizes a soft-robust objective that balances expected performance and risk. To the best of our knowledge, PG-BROIL is the first policy optimizationmore »algorithm robust to a distribution of reward hypotheses which can scale to continuous MDPs. Results suggest that PG-BROIL can produce a family of behaviors ranging from risk-neutral to risk-averse and outperforms state-of-the-art imitation learning algorithms when learning from ambiguous demonstrations by hedging against uncertainty, rather than seeking to uniquely identify the demonstrator’s reward function.« less
  2. Robotic manipulation of deformable 1D objects such as ropes, cables, and hoses is challenging due to the lack of high-fidelity analytic models and large configuration spaces. Furthermore, learning end-to-end manipulation policies directly from images and physical interaction requires significant time on a robot and can fail to generalize across tasks. We address these challenges using interpretable deep visual representations for rope, extending recent work on dense object descriptors for robot manipulation. This facilitates the design of interpretable and transferable geometric policies built on top of the learned representations, decoupling visual reasoning and control. We present an approach that learns point-pairmore »correspondences between initial and goal rope configurations, which implicitly encodes geometric structure, entirely in simulation from synthetic depth images. We demonstrate that the learned representation - dense depth object descriptors (DDODs) - can be used to manipulate a real rope into a variety of different arrangements either by learning from demonstrations or using interpretable geometric policies. In 50 trials of a knot-tying task with the ABB YuMi Robot, the system achieves a 66% knot-tying success rate from previously unseen configurations. See for supplementary material and videos.« less
  3. There has been significant recent work on data-driven algorithms for learning general-purpose grasping policies. However, these policies can consis- tently fail to grasp challenging objects which are significantly out of the distribution of objects in the training data or which have very few high quality grasps. Moti- vated by such objects, we propose a novel problem setting, Exploratory Grasping, for efficiently discovering reliable grasps on an unknown polyhedral object via sequential grasping, releasing, and toppling. We formalize Exploratory Grasping as a Markov Decision Process where we assume that the robot can (1) distinguish stable poses of a polyhedral object ofmore »unknown geometry, (2) generate grasp can- didates on these poses and execute them, (3) determine whether each grasp is successful, and (4) release the object into a random new pose after a grasp success or topple the object after a grasp failure. We study the theoretical complexity of Exploratory Grasping in the context of reinforcement learning and present an efficient bandit-style algorithm, Bandits for Online Rapid Grasp Exploration Strategy (BORGES), which leverages the structure of the problem to efficiently discover high performing grasps for each object stable pose. BORGES can be used to complement any general-purpose grasping algorithm with any grasp modality (parallel-jaw, suction, multi-fingered, etc) to learn policies for objects in which they exhibit persistent failures. Simulation experiments suggest that BORGES can significantly outperform both general-purpose grasping pipelines and two other online learning algorithms and achieves performance within 5% of the optimal policy within 1000 and 8000 timesteps on average across 46 challenging objects from the Dex-Net adversarial and EGAD! object datasets, respectively. Initial physical experiments suggest that BORGES can improve grasp success rate by 45% over a Dex-Net baseline with just 200 grasp attempts in the real world. See for supplementary material and videos.« less