The 2021 International Conference on Robotics and Automation (IEEE ICRA 2021) was held in Xi’an, China from 31st May to 4th June 2021. As one of the premier and top conferences in the field of robotics and automation, this great event has gathered thousands of excellent researchers from all over the world. Due to the pandemic, the conference was held in a hybrid format, including physical on-site and virtual cloud meetings. Four STEP2DYNA researchers attended this event, 3 in person and 1 online.
Proactive Action Visual Residual Reinforcement Learning for Contact-Rich Tasks Using a Torque-Controlled Robot
Agile Robots researcher Yunlei Shi attended ICRA 2021 online and presented his paper ‘Proactive Action Visual Residual Reinforcement Learning for Contact-Rich Tasks Using a Torque-Controlled Robot’.
Yunlei Shi is a full-time Ph.D. student at the Universität Hamburg and working at project partner Agile Robots. In 2020 he visited Tsinghua University as part of the STEP2DYNA project.
Yunlei presented his conference paper:
Yunlei Shi, Zhaopeng Chen, Hongxu Liu, Sebastian Riedel, Chunhui Gao, Qian Feng, Jun Deng, Jianwei Zhang, “Proactive Action Visual Residual Reinforcement Learning for Contact-Rich Tasks Using a Torque-Controlled Robot”, (ICRA) 2021, Xi’ an, China.
Contact-rich manipulation tasks are commonly found in modern manufacturing settings. However, manually designing a robot controller is considered hard for traditional control methods as the controller requires an effective combination of modalities and vastly different characteristics. In this paper, we first consider incorporating operational space visual and haptic information into a reinforcement learning (RL) method to solve the target uncertainty problems in unstructured environments. Moreover, we propose a novel idea of introducing a proactive action to solve a partially observable Markov decision process (POMDP) problem. With these two ideas, our method can either adapt to reasonable variations in unstructured environments or improve the sample efficiency of policy learning. We evaluated our method on a task that involved inserting a random-access memory (RAM) using a torque-controlled robot and tested the success rates of different baselines used in the traditional methods. We proved that our method is robust and can tolerate environmental variations.
More details about this paper can be viewed in this video on the Universität Hamburg’s Technical Aspects of Multimodal Systems (TAMS) YouTube channel.
Yunlei was very happy to attend this fantastic conference with support from the project STEP2DYNA.
A Versatile Vision-Pheromone-Communication Platform for Swarm Robotics
Three researchers from the University of Lincoln; Tian Liu, Xuelong Sun, and Qinbing Fu, attended ICRA 2021 in person to present their co-authored paper, ‘A Versatile Vision-Pheromone-Communication Platform for Swarm Robotics’.
We three were very happy to physically attend this fantastic conference with the support from the project STEP2DYNA.
We have one co-authored paper that presents our developed vision-pheromone-communication platform which was published in the proceedings of this conference. Tian Liu delivered the presentation which outlined our platform and it attracted some attention of attendees through interesting questions asked by the audience. We think that this event has provided us a great opportunity to raise publicity about our platform for future swarm robotics and social insects studies.
A Versatile Vision-Pheromone-Communication Platform for Swarm Robotics, Tian Liu, Xuelong Sun, Cheng Hu, Qinbing Fu, and Shigang Yue, University of Lincoln
Keywords: Biologically-Inspired Robots, Multi-Robot Systems, Swarm Robotics
Abstract: This paper describes a versatile platform for swarm robotics research. It integrates multiple pheromone communication with a dynamic visual scene along with real-time data transmission and localization of multiple-robots. The platform has been built for inquiries into social insect behavior and bio-robotics. By introducing a new research scheme to coordinate olfactory and visual cues, it not only complements current swarm robotics platforms which focus only on pheromone communications by adding visual interaction but also may fill an important gap in closing the loop from bio-robotics to neuroscience. We have built a controllable dynamic visual environment based on our previously developed ColCOSPhi (a multi-pheromones platform) by enclosing the arena with LED panels and interacting with the micro mobile robots with a visual sensor. In addition, a wireless communication system has been developed to allow the transmission of real-time bi-directional data between multiple micro robot agents and a PC host. A case study combining concepts from the internet of vehicles (IoV) and insect-vision inspired model has been undertaken to verify the applicability of the presented platform and to investigate how complex scenarios can be facilitated by making use of this platform.
We have grasped many interesting ideas and inspirations from colleagues in the robotics field from not only the excellent talks but also high-quality robots’ exhibitions from famed companies in the industry.
On the last day of the conference, we attended a wonderful tour of the Shaanxi History Museum and the Terra-Cotta Warriors, from which we have leaned a lot about the impressive history and culture of Qin dynasty. Further, this also makes us rethink the important role played by science and technology in assisting archaeological excavation and cultural relic protection.
Thanks to the supportive STEP2DYNA project, we really enjoyed the whole event bringing us not only new knowledge about the robotics and history, but enlightening inspirations which will potentially motivate our future researches. In addition, our group’s researching works also have been propagated via this top international conference.