Efficient Bimanual Manipulation Using Learned Task Schemas

International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA)


We address the problem of effectively composing skills to solve sparse-reward tasks in the real world. Given a set of parameterized skills (such as exerting a force or doing a top grasp at a location), our goal is to learn policies that invoke these skills to efficiently solve such tasks. Our insight is that for many tasks, the learning process can be decomposed into learning a state-independent task schema (a sequence of skills to execute) and a policy to choose the parameterizations of the skills in a state-dependent manner. For such tasks, we show that explicitly modeling the schema’s state-independence can yield significant improvements in sample efficiency for model-free reinforcement learning algorithms. Furthermore, these schemas can be transferred to solve related tasks, by simply re-learning the parameterizations with which the skills are invoked. We find that doing so enables learning to solve sparse-reward tasks on real-world robotic systems very efficiently. We validate our approach experimentally over a suite of robotic bimanual manipulation tasks, both in simulation and on real hardware. See videos at http://tinyurl.com/chitnis-schema.

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