Anticipating the motion of all humans in dynamic environments such as homes and offices is critical to enable safe and effective robot navigation. Such spaces remain challenging as humans do not follow strict rules of motion and there are often multiple occluded entry points such as corners and doors that create opportunities for sudden encounters. In this work, we present a Transformer based architecture to predict human future trajectories in human-centric environments from input features including human positions, head orientations, and 3D skeletal keypoints from onboard in-the-wild sensory information. The resulting model captures the inherent uncertainty for future human trajectory prediction and achieves state-of-the-art performance on common prediction benchmarks and a human tracking dataset captured from a mobile robot adapted for the prediction task. Furthermore, we identify new agents with limited historical data as a major contributor to error and demonstrate the complementary nature of 3D skeletal poses in reducing prediction error in such challenging scenarios.
Animals have evolved various agile locomotion strategies, such as sprinting, leaping, and jumping. There is a growing interest in developing legged robots that move like their biological counterparts and show various agile skills to navigate complex environments quickly. Despite the interest, the field lacks systematic benchmarks to measure the performance of control policies and hardware in agility. We introduce the Barkour benchmark, an obstacle course to quantify agility for legged robots. Inspired by dog agility competitions, it consists of diverse obstacles and a time based scoring mechanism. This encourages researchers to develop controllers that not only move fast, but do so in a controllable and versatile way. To set strong baselines, we present two methods for tackling the benchmark. In the first approach, we train specialist locomotion skills using on-policy reinforcement learning methods and combine them with a high-level navigation controller. In the second approach, we distill the specialist skills into a Transformer-based generalist locomotion policy, named Locomotion-Transformer, that can handle various terrains and adjust the robot's gait based on the perceived environment and robot states. Using a custom-built quadruped robot, we demonstrate that our method can complete the course at half the speed of a dog. We hope that our work represents a step towards creating controllers that enable robots to reach animal-level agility.
By transferring knowledge from large, diverse, task-agnostic datasets, modern machine learning models can solve specific downstream tasks either zero-shot or with small task-specific datasets to a high level of performance. While this capability has been demonstrated in other fields such as computer vision, natural language processing or speech recognition, it remains to be shown in robotics, where the generalization capabilities of the models are particularly critical due to the difficulty of collecting real-world robotic data. We argue that one of the keys to the success of such general robotic models lies with open-ended task-agnostic training, combined with high-capacity architectures that can absorb all of the diverse, robotic data. In this paper, we present a model class, dubbed Robotics Transformer, that exhibits promising scalable model properties. We verify our conclusions in a study of different model classes and their ability to generalize as a function of the data size, model size, and data diversity based on a large-scale data collection on real robots performing real-world tasks. The project's website and videos can be found at robotics-transformer.github.io
Object-goal navigation (Object-nav) entails searching, recognizing and navigating to a target object. Object-nav has been extensively studied by the Embodied-AI community, but most solutions are often restricted to considering static objects (e.g., television, fridge, etc.). We propose a modular framework for object-nav that is able to efficiently search indoor environments for not just static objects but also movable objects (e.g. fruits, glasses, phones, etc.) that frequently change their positions due to human intervention. Our contextual-bandit agent efficiently explores the environment by showing optimism in the face of uncertainty and learns a model of the likelihood of spotting different objects from each navigable location. The likelihoods are used as rewards in a weighted minimum latency solver to deduce a trajectory for the robot. We evaluate our algorithms in two simulated environments and a real-world setting, to demonstrate high sample efficiency and reliability.
Despite decades of research, existing navigation systems still face real-world challenges when deployed in the wild, e.g., in cluttered home environments or in human-occupied public spaces. To address this, we present a new class of implicit control policies combining the benefits of imitation learning with the robust handling of system constraints from Model Predictive Control (MPC). Our approach, called Performer-MPC, uses a learned cost function parameterized by vision context embeddings provided by Performers -- a low-rank implicit-attention Transformer. We jointly train the cost function and construct the controller relying on it, effectively solving end-to-end the corresponding bi-level optimization problem. We show that the resulting policy improves standard MPC performance by leveraging a few expert demonstrations of the desired navigation behavior in different challenging real-world scenarios. Compared with a standard MPC policy, Performer-MPC achieves >40% better goal reached in cluttered environments and >65% better on social metrics when navigating around humans.
Large language models can encode a wealth of semantic knowledge about the world. Such knowledge could be extremely useful to robots aiming to act upon high-level, temporally extended instructions expressed in natural language. However, a significant weakness of language models is that they lack real-world experience, which makes it difficult to leverage them for decision making within a given embodiment. For example, asking a language model to describe how to clean a spill might result in a reasonable narrative, but it may not be applicable to a particular agent, such as a robot, that needs to perform this task in a particular environment. We propose to provide real-world grounding by means of pretrained skills, which are used to constrain the model to propose natural language actions that are both feasible and contextually appropriate. The robot can act as the language model's "hands and eyes," while the language model supplies high-level semantic knowledge about the task. We show how low-level skills can be combined with large language models so that the language model provides high-level knowledge about the procedures for performing complex and temporally-extended instructions, while value functions associated with these skills provide the grounding necessary to connect this knowledge to a particular physical environment. We evaluate our method on a number of real-world robotic tasks, where we show the need for real-world grounding and that this approach is capable of completing long-horizon, abstract, natural language instructions on a mobile manipulator. The project's website and the video can be found at https://say-can.github.io/
We describe a large vocabulary speech recognition system that is accurate, has low latency, and yet has a small enough memory and computational footprint to run faster than real-time on a Nexus 5 Android smartphone. We employ a quantized Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) acoustic model trained with connectionist temporal classification (CTC) to directly predict phoneme targets, and further reduce its memory footprint using an SVD-based compression scheme. Additionally, we minimize our memory footprint by using a single language model for both dictation and voice command domains, constructed using Bayesian interpolation. Finally, in order to properly handle device-specific information, such as proper names and other context-dependent information, we inject vocabulary items into the decoder graph and bias the language model on-the-fly. Our system achieves 13.5% word error rate on an open-ended dictation task, running with a median speed that is seven times faster than real-time.