Frame Mining: a Free Lunch for Learning Robotic Manipulation from 3D Point Clouds

14 Oct 2022  ·  Minghua Liu, Xuanlin Li, Zhan Ling, Yangyan Li, Hao Su ·

We study how choices of input point cloud coordinate frames impact learning of manipulation skills from 3D point clouds. There exist a variety of coordinate frame choices to normalize captured robot-object-interaction point clouds. We find that different frames have a profound effect on agent learning performance, and the trend is similar across 3D backbone networks. In particular, the end-effector frame and the target-part frame achieve higher training efficiency than the commonly used world frame and robot-base frame in many tasks, intuitively because they provide helpful alignments among point clouds across time steps and thus can simplify visual module learning. Moreover, the well-performing frames vary across tasks, and some tasks may benefit from multiple frame candidates. We thus propose FrameMiners to adaptively select candidate frames and fuse their merits in a task-agnostic manner. Experimentally, FrameMiners achieves on-par or significantly higher performance than the best single-frame version on five fully physical manipulation tasks adapted from ManiSkill and OCRTOC. Without changing existing camera placements or adding extra cameras, point cloud frame mining can serve as a free lunch to improve 3D manipulation learning.

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