Foundation models that incorporate language, vision, and more recently actions have revolutionized the ability to harness internet scale data to reason about useful tasks. However, one of the key challenges of training embodied foundation models is the lack of data grounded in the physical world. In this paper, we propose AutoRT, a system that leverages existing foundation models to scale up the deployment of operational robots in completely unseen scenarios with minimal human supervision. AutoRT leverages vision-language models (VLMs) for scene understanding and grounding, and further uses large language models (LLMs) for proposing diverse and novel instructions to be performed by a fleet of robots. Guiding data collection by tapping into the knowledge of foundation models enables AutoRT to effectively reason about autonomy tradeoffs and safety while significantly scaling up data collection for robot learning. We demonstrate AutoRT proposing instructions to over 20 robots across multiple buildings and collecting 77k real robot episodes via both teleoperation and autonomous robot policies. We experimentally show that such "in-the-wild" data collected by AutoRT is significantly more diverse, and that AutoRT's use of LLMs allows for instruction following data collection robots that can align to human preferences.
We present a scalable, bottom-up and intrinsically diverse data collection scheme that can be used for high-level reasoning with long and medium horizons and that has 2.2x higher throughput compared to traditional narrow top-down step-by-step collection. We collect realistic data by performing any user requests within the entirety of 3 office buildings and using multiple robot and human embodiments. With this data, we show that models trained on all embodiments perform better than ones trained on the robot data only, even when evaluated solely on robot episodes. We find that for a fixed collection budget it is beneficial to take advantage of cheaper human collection along with robot collection. We release a large and highly diverse (29,520 unique instructions) dataset dubbed RoboVQA containing 829,502 (video, text) pairs for robotics-focused visual question answering. We also demonstrate how evaluating real robot experiments with an intervention mechanism enables performing tasks to completion, making it deployable with human oversight even if imperfect while also providing a single performance metric. We demonstrate a single video-conditioned model named RoboVQA-VideoCoCa trained on our dataset that is capable of performing a variety of grounded high-level reasoning tasks in broad realistic settings with a cognitive intervention rate 46% lower than the zero-shot state of the art visual language model (VLM) baseline and is able to guide real robots through long-horizon tasks. The performance gap with zero-shot state-of-the-art models indicates that a lot of grounded data remains to be collected for real-world deployment, emphasizing the critical need for scalable data collection approaches. Finally, we show that video VLMs significantly outperform single-image VLMs with an average error rate reduction of 19% across all VQA tasks. Data and videos available at https://robovqa.github.io
We study how vision-language models trained on Internet-scale data can be incorporated directly into end-to-end robotic control to boost generalization and enable emergent semantic reasoning. Our goal is to enable a single end-to-end trained model to both learn to map robot observations to actions and enjoy the benefits of large-scale pretraining on language and vision-language data from the web. To this end, we propose to co-fine-tune state-of-the-art vision-language models on both robotic trajectory data and Internet-scale vision-language tasks, such as visual question answering. In contrast to other approaches, we propose a simple, general recipe to achieve this goal: in order to fit both natural language responses and robotic actions into the same format, we express the actions as text tokens and incorporate them directly into the training set of the model in the same way as natural language tokens. We refer to such category of models as vision-language-action models (VLA) and instantiate an example of such a model, which we call RT-2. Our extensive evaluation (6k evaluation trials) shows that our approach leads to performant robotic policies and enables RT-2 to obtain a range of emergent capabilities from Internet-scale training. This includes significantly improved generalization to novel objects, the ability to interpret commands not present in the robot training data (such as placing an object onto a particular number or icon), and the ability to perform rudimentary reasoning in response to user commands (such as picking up the smallest or largest object, or the one closest to another object). We further show that incorporating chain of thought reasoning allows RT-2 to perform multi-stage semantic reasoning, for example figuring out which object to pick up for use as an improvised hammer (a rock), or which type of drink is best suited for someone who is tired (an energy drink).
We address a benchmark task in agile robotics: catching objects thrown at high-speed. This is a challenging task that involves tracking, intercepting, and cradling a thrown object with access only to visual observations of the object and the proprioceptive state of the robot, all within a fraction of a second. We present the relative merits of two fundamentally different solution strategies: (i) Model Predictive Control using accelerated constrained trajectory optimization, and (ii) Reinforcement Learning using zeroth-order optimization. We provide insights into various performance trade-offs including sample efficiency, sim-to-real transfer, robustness to distribution shifts, and whole-body multimodality via extensive on-hardware experiments. We conclude with proposals on fusing "classical" and "learning-based" techniques for agile robot control. Videos of our experiments may be found at https://sites.google.com/view/agile-catching
Most successes in robotic manipulation have been restricted to single-arm gripper robots, whose low dexterity limits the range of solvable tasks to pick-and-place, inser-tion, and object rearrangement. More complex tasks such as assembly require dual and multi-arm platforms, but entail a suite of unique challenges such as bi-arm coordination and collision avoidance, robust grasping, and long-horizon planning. In this work we investigate the feasibility of training deep reinforcement learning (RL) policies in simulation and transferring them to the real world (Sim2Real) as a generic methodology for obtaining performant controllers for real-world bi-manual robotic manipulation tasks. As a testbed for bi-manual manipulation, we develop the U-Shape Magnetic BlockAssembly Task, wherein two robots with parallel grippers must connect 3 magnetic blocks to form a U-shape. Without manually-designed controller nor human demonstrations, we demonstrate that with careful Sim2Real considerations, our policies trained with RL in simulation enable two xArm6 robots to solve the U-shape assembly task with a success rate of above90% in simulation, and 50% on real hardware without any additional real-world fine-tuning. Through careful ablations,we highlight how each component of the system is critical for such simple and successful policy learning and transfer,including task specification, learning algorithm, direct joint-space control, behavior constraints, perception and actuation noises, action delays and action interpolation. Our results present a significant step forward for bi-arm capability on real hardware, and we hope our system can inspire future research on deep RL and Sim2Real transfer of bi-manualpolicies, drastically scaling up the capability of real-world robot manipulators.
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
We propose a model-free algorithm for learning efficient policies capable of returning table tennis balls by controlling robot joints at a rate of 100Hz. We demonstrate that evolutionary search (ES) methods acting on CNN-based policy architectures for non-visual inputs and convolving across time learn compact controllers leading to smooth motions. Furthermore, we show that with appropriately tuned curriculum learning on the task and rewards, policies are capable of developing multi-modal styles, specifically forehand and backhand stroke, whilst achieving 80\% return rate on a wide range of ball throws. We observe that multi-modality does not require any architectural priors, such as multi-head architectures or hierarchical policies.