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by   -   September 16, 2020


By Misha Laskin, Aravind Srinivas, Kimin Lee, Adam Stooke, Lerrel Pinto, Pieter Abbeel

A remarkable characteristic of human intelligence is our ability to learn tasks quickly. Most humans can learn reasonably complex skills like tool-use and gameplay within just a few hours, and understand the basics after only a few attempts. This suggests that data-efficient learning may be a meaningful part of developing broader intelligence.

by   -   July 22, 2020

Human thumb next to our OmniTact sensor, and a US penny for scale.

By Akhil Padmanabha and Frederik Ebert

Touch has been shown to be important for dexterous manipulation in robotics. Recently, the GelSight sensor has caught significant interest for learning-based robotics due to its low cost and rich signal. For example, GelSight sensors have been used for learning inserting USB cables (Li et al, 2014), rolling a die (Tian et al. 2019) or grasping objects (Calandra et al. 2017).

by   -   June 24, 2020

The newly designed HAMR-Jr alongside its predecessor, HAMR-VI. HAMR-Jr is only slightly bigger in length and width than a penny, making it one of the smallest yet highly capable, high-speed insect-scale robots. Credit: Kaushik Jayaram/Harvard SEAS

By Leah Burrows

This itsy-bitsy robot can’t climb up the waterspout yet but it can run, jump, carry heavy payloads and turn on a dime. Dubbed HAMR-JR, this microrobot developed by researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, is a half-scale version of the cockroach-inspired Harvard Ambulatory Microrobot or HAMR.

by   -   June 24, 2020


Researchers from NCCR Robotics at the University of Zurich and Intel developed an algorithm that pushes autonomous drones to their physical limit.

by   -   May 6, 2020

By Benjamin Eysenbach and Abhishek Gupta

This post is cross-listed on the CMU ML blog.

The history of machine learning has largely been a story of increasing abstraction. In the dawn of ML, researchers spent considerable effort engineering features. As deep learning gained popularity, researchers then shifted towards tuning the update rules and learning rates for their optimizers. Recent research in meta-learning has climbed one level of abstraction higher: many researchers now spend their days manually constructing task distributions, from which they can automatically learn good optimizers. What might be the next rung on this ladder? In this post we introduce theory and algorithms for unsupervised meta-learning, where machine learning algorithms themselves propose their own task distributions. Unsupervised meta-learning further reduces the amount of human supervision required to solve tasks, potentially inserting a new rung on this ladder of abstraction.

by   -   April 6, 2020


By Xue Bin (Jason) Peng

Whether it’s a dog chasing after a ball, or a monkey swinging through the trees, animals can effortlessly perform an incredibly rich repertoire of agile locomotion skills. But designing controllers that enable legged robots to replicate these agile behaviors can be a very challenging task. The superior agility seen in animals, as compared to robots, might lead one to wonder: can we create more agile robotic controllers with less effort by directly imitating animals?

by   -   March 18, 2020

Reinforcement learning has seen a great deal of success in solving complex decision making problems ranging from robotics to games to supply chain management to recommender systems. Despite their success, deep reinforcement learning algorithms can be exceptionally difficult to use, due to unstable training, sensitivity to hyperparameters, and generally unpredictable and poorly understood convergence properties. Multiple explanations, and corresponding solutions, have been proposed for improving the stability of such methods, and we have seen good progress over the last few years on these algorithms. In this blog post, we will dive deep into analyzing a central and underexplored reason behind some of the problems with the class of deep RL algorithms based on dynamic programming, which encompass the popular DQN and soft actor-critic (SAC) algorithms – the detrimental connection between data distributions and learned models.

by   -   January 26, 2020

By Glen Berseth

All living organisms carve out environmental niches within which they can maintain relative predictability amidst the ever-increasing entropy around them (1), (2). Humans, for example, go to great lengths to shield themselves from surprise — we band together in millions to build cities with homes, supplying water, food, gas, and electricity to control the deterioration of our bodies and living spaces amidst heat and cold, wind and storm. The need to discover and maintain such surprise-free equilibria has driven great resourcefulness and skill in organisms across very diverse natural habitats. Motivated by this, we ask: could the motive of preserving order amidst chaos guide the automatic acquisition of useful behaviors in artificial agents?

by   -   December 7, 2019

By Aviral Kumar

One of the primary factors behind the success of machine learning approaches in open world settings, such as image recognition and natural language processing, has been the ability of high-capacity deep neural network function approximators to learn generalizable models from large amounts of data. Deep reinforcement learning methods, however, require active online data collection, where the model actively interacts with its environment. This makes such methods hard to scale to complex real-world problems, where active data collection means that large datasets of experience must be collected for every experiment – this can be expensive and, for systems such as autonomous vehicles or robots, potentially unsafe. In a number of domains of practical interest, such as autonomous driving, robotics, and games, there exist plentiful amounts of previously collected interaction data which, consists of informative behaviours that are a rich source of prior information. Deep RL algorithms that can utilize such prior datasets will not only scale to real-world problems, but will also lead to solutions that generalize substantially better. A data-driven paradigm for reinforcement learning will enable us to pre-train and deploy agents capable of sample-efficient learning in the real-world.

At Danfoss in Gråsten, the Danish Technological Institute (DTI) is testing, as part of a pilot project in the European robot network ROBOTT-NET, several robot technologies: Manipulation using force sensors, simpler separation of items and a 3D-printed three-in-one gripper for handling capacitors, nuts and a socket handle.

by   -   December 7, 2019

By Sudeep Dasari

This post is cross-listed at the SAIL Blog and the CMU ML blog.

In the last decade, we’ve seen learning-based systems provide transformative solutions for a wide range of perception and reasoning problems, from recognizing objects in images to recognizing and translating human speech. Recent progress in deep reinforcement learning (i.e. integrating deep neural networks into reinforcement learning systems) suggests that the same kind of success could be realized in automated decision making domains. If fruitful, this line of work could allow learning-based systems to tackle active control tasks, such as robotics and autonomous driving, alongside the passive perception tasks to which they have already been successfully applied.

by   -   November 6, 2019

The Wyss Institute’s and SEAS robotics team built different models of the soft actuator powered RoboBee. Shown here is a four-wing, two actuator, and an eight-wing, four-actuator RoboBee model the latter of which being the first soft actuator-powered flying microrobot that is capable of controlled hovering flight. Credit: Harvard Microrobotics Lab/Harvard SEAS
By Leah Burrows

The sight of a RoboBee careening towards a wall or crashing into a glass box may have once triggered panic in the researchers in the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), but no more.

by   -   November 6, 2019

By David Gaddy

When learning to follow natural language instructions, neural networks tend to be very data hungry – they require a huge number of examples pairing language with actions in order to learn effectively. This post is about reducing those heavy data requirements by first watching actions in the environment before moving on to learning from language data. Inspired by the idea that it is easier to map language to meanings that have already been formed, we introduce a semi-supervised approach that aims to separate the formation of abstractions from the learning of language.

by   -   November 4, 2019

By K.N. McGuire, C. De Wagter, K. Tuyls, H.J. Kappen, G.C.H.E. de Croon

Greenhouses, search-and-rescue teams and warehouses are all looking for new methods to enable surveillance in a manner that is quick and safe for the objects and people surrounding them. Many of them already found their way into robotics, but wheeled ground-bound systems have limited maneuverability. Ideally it would be great if flying robots, a.k.a. micro aerial vehicles (MAV) can take advantage of their 3rd dimension to perform surveillance.

by   -   October 21, 2019

By Eric Liang and Richard Liaw and Clement Gehring

In this blog post, we explore a functional paradigm for implementing reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms. The paradigm will be that developers write the numerics of their algorithm as independent, pure functions, and then use a library to compile them into policies that can be trained at scale. We share how these ideas were implemented in RLlib’s policy builder API, eliminating thousands of lines of “glue” code and bringing support for Keras and TensorFlow 2.0.



Humanized Intelligence in Academia and Industry
September 8, 2020


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