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  1. As many robot automation applications increasingly rely on multi-core processing or deep-learning models, cloud computing is becoming an attractive and economically viable resource for systems that do not contain high computing power onboard. Despite its immense computing capacity, it is often underused by the robotics and automation community due to lack of expertise in cloud computing and cloud-based infrastructure. Fog Robotics balances computing and data between cloud edge devices. We propose a software framework, FogROS, as an extension of the Robot Operating System (ROS), the de-facto standard for creating robot automation applications and components. It allows researchers to deploy componentsmore »of their software to the cloud with minimal effort, and correspondingly gain access to additional computing cores, GPUs, FPGAs, and TPUs, as well as predeployed software made available by other researchers. FogROS allows a researcher to specify which components of their software will be deployed to the cloud and to what type of computing hardware. We evaluate FogROS on 3 examples: (1) simultaneous localization and mapping (ORB-SLAM2), (2) Dexterity Network (Dex-Net) GPU-based grasp planning, and (3) multi-core motion planning using a 96-core cloud-based server. In all three examples, a component is deployed to the cloud and accelerated with a small change in system launch configuration, while incurring additional latency of 1.2 s, 0.6 s, and 0.5 s due to network communication, the computation speed is improved by 2.6x, 6.0x and 34.2x, respectively.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 23, 2022
  2. 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
  3. Mechanical search, the finding and extracting of a known target object from a cluttered environment, is a key challenge in automating warehouse, home, retail, and industrial tasks. In this paper, we consider contexts in which occluding objects are to remain untouched, thus minimizing disruptions and avoiding toppling. We assume a 6-DOF robot with an RGBD camera and unicontact suction gripper mounted on its wrist. With this setup, the robot can move both camera and gripper in order to identify a suitable approach vector, reach in to achieve a suction grasp of the target object, and extract it. We present AVPLUG:more »Approach Vector PLanning for Unicontact Grasping, an algorithm that uses an octree occupancy model and Minkowski sum computation to find a collision-free grasp approach vector. Experiments in simulation and with a physical Fetch robot suggest that AVPLUG finds an approach vector up to 20× faster than a baseline search policy.« less
  4. Consumer demand for augmented reality (AR) in mobile phone applications, such as the Apple ARKit. Such applications have potential to expand access to robot grasp planning systems such as Dex-Net. AR apps use structure from motion methods to compute a point cloud from a sequence of RGB images taken by the camera as it is moved around an object. However, the resulting point clouds are often noisy due to estimation errors. We present a distributed pipeline, DexNet AR, that allows point clouds to be uploaded to a server in our lab, cleaned, and evaluated by Dex-Net grasp planner to generatemore »a grasp axis that is returned and displayed as an overlay on the object. We implement Dex-Net AR using the iPhone and ARKit and compare results with those generated with high-performance depth sensors. The success rates with AR on harder adversarial objects are higher than traditional depth images.« less
  5. For robots using motion planning algorithms such as RRT and RRT*, the computational load can vary by orders of magnitude as the complexity of the local environment changes. To adaptively provide such computation, we propose Fog Robotics algorithms in which cloud-based serverless lambda computing provides parallel computation on demand. To use this parallelism, we propose novel motion planning algorithms that scale effectively with an increasing number of serverless computers. However, given that the allocation of computing is typically bounded by both monetary and time constraints, we show how prior learning can be used to efficiently allocate resources at runtime. Wemore »demonstrate the algorithms and application of learned parallel allocation in both simulation and with the Fetch commercial mobile manipulator using Amazon Lambda to complete a sequence of sporadically computationally intensive motion planning tasks.« less
  6. 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 https://tinyurl.com/rope-learning for supplementary material and videos.« less
  7. 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 https://tinyurl.com/exp-grasping for supplementary material and videos.« less