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  1. Recent work has demonstrated that motion planners’ performance can be significantly improved by retrieving past experiences from a database. Typically, the experience database is queried for past similar problems using a similarity function defined over the motion planning problems. However, to date, most works rely on simple hand-crafted similarity functions and fail to generalize outside their corresponding training dataset. To address this limitation, we propose (FIRE), a framework that extracts local representation of planning problems and learns a similarity function over them. To generate the training data we introduce a novel self-supervised method that identifies similar and dissimilar pairs of local primitives from past solution paths. With these pairs, a Siamese network is trained with the contrastive loss and the similarity function is realized in the network’s latent space. We evaluate FIRE on an 8-DOF manipulator in five categories of motion planning problems with sensed environments. Our experiments show that FIRE retrieves relevant experiences which can informatively guide sampling-based planners even in problems outside its training distribution, outperforming other baselines. 
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    Earlier work has shown that reusing experience from prior motion planning problems can improve the efficiency of similar, future motion planning queries. However, for robots with many degrees-of-freedom, these methods exhibit poor generalization across different environments and often require large datasets that are impractical to gather. We present SPARK and FLAME, two experience-based frameworks for sampling-based planning applicable to complex manipulators in 3D environments. Both combine samplers associated with features from a workspace decomposition into a global biased sampling distribution. SPARK decomposes the environment based on exact geometry while FLAME is more general, and uses an octree-based decomposition obtained from sensor data. We demonstrate the effectiveness of SPARK and FLAME on a real and simulated Fetch robot tasked with challenging pick-and-place manipulation problems. Our approaches can be trained incrementally and significantly improve performance with only a handful of examples, generalizing better over diverse tasks and environments as compared to prior approaches. 
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  3. Over the years, many motion planning algorithms have been proposed. It is often unclear which algorithm might be best suited for a particular class of problems. The problem is compounded by the fact that algorithm performance can be highly dependent on parameter settings. This paper shows that hyperparameter optimization is an effective tool in both algorithm selection and parameter tuning over a given set of motion planning problems. We present different loss functions for optimization that capture different notions of optimality. The approach is evaluated on a broad range of scenes using two different manipulators, a Fetch and a Baxter. We show that optimized planning algorithm performance significantly improves upon baseline performance and generalizes broadly in the sense that performance improvements carry over to problems that are very different from the ones considered during optimization. 
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  5. Sampling-based planners are effective in many real-world applications such as robotics manipulation, navigation, and even protein modeling. However, it is often challenging to generate a collision-free path in environments where key areas are hard to sample. In the absence of any prior information, sampling-based planners are forced to explore uniformly or heuristically, which can lead to degraded performance. One way to improve performance is to use prior knowledge of environments to adapt the sampling strategy to the problem at hand. In this work, we decompose the workspace into local primitives, memorizing local experiences by these primitives in the form of local samplers, and store them in a database. We synthesize an efficient global sampler by retrieving local experiences relevant to the given situation. Our method transfers knowledge effectively between diverse environments that share local primitives and speeds up the performance dramatically. Our results show, in terms of solution time, an improvement of multiple orders of magnitude in two traditionally challenging high-dimensional problems compared to state-of-the-art approaches. 
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