Factory: Fast Contact for Robotic Assembly

Robotic assembly is one of the oldest and most challenging applications of robotics. In other areas of robotics, such as perception and grasping, simulation has rapidly accelerated research progress, particularly when combined with modern deep learning. However, accurately, efficiently, and robustly simulating the range of contact-rich interactions in assembly remains a longstanding challenge. In this work, we present Factory, a set of physics simulation methods and robot learning tools for such applications. We achieve real-time or faster simulation of a wide range of contact-rich scenes, including simultaneous simulation of 1000 nut-and-bolt interactions. We provide $60$ carefully-designed part models, 3 robotic assembly environments, and 7 robot controllers for training and testing virtual robots. Finally, we train and evaluate proof-of-concept reinforcement learning policies for nut-and-bolt assembly. We aim for Factory to open the doors to using simulation for robotic assembly, as well as many other contact-rich applications in robotics. Please see https://sites.google.com/nvidia.com/factory for supplementary content, including videos.

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