An Efficient Image-to-Image Translation HourGlass-based Architecture for Object Pushing Policy Learning

Humans effortlessly solve pushing tasks in everyday life but unlocking these capabilities remains a challenge in robotics because physics models of these tasks are often inaccurate or unattainable. State-of-the-art data-driven approaches learn to compensate for these inaccuracies or replace the approximated physics models altogether. Nevertheless, approaches like Deep Q-Networks (DQNs) suffer from local optima in large state-action spaces. Furthermore, they rely on well-chosen deep learning architectures and learning paradigms. In this paper, we propose to frame the learning of pushing policies (where to push and how) by DQNs as an image-to-image translation problem and exploit an Hourglass-based architecture. We present an architecture combining a predictor of which pushes lead to changes in the environment with a state-action value predictor dedicated to the pushing task. Moreover, we investigate positional information encoding to learn position-dependent policy behaviors. We demonstrate in simulation experiments with a UR5 robot arm that our overall architecture helps the DQN learn faster and achieve higher performance in a pushing task involving objects with unknown dynamics.

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