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Many complex robotic manipulation tasks can be decomposed as a sequence of pick and place actions. Training a robotic agent to learn this sequence over many different starting conditions typically requires many iterations or demonstrations, especially in 3D environments. In this work, we propose Fourier Transporter (\ours{}) which leverages the two-fold $\SE(d)\times\SE(d)$ symmetry in the pick-place problem to achieve much higher sample efficiency. \ours{} is an open-loop behavior cloning method trained using expert demonstrations to predict pick-place actions on new environments. \ours{} is constrained to incorporate symmetries of the pick and place actions independently. Our method utilizes a fiber space Fourier transformation that allows for memory-efficient construction. We test our proposed network on the RLbench benchmark and achieve state-of-the-art results across various tasks.

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In robotic tasks, changes in reference frames typically do not influence the underlying physical properties of the system, which has been known as invariance of physical laws.These changes, which preserve distance, encompass isometric transformations such as translations, rotations, and reflections, collectively known as the Euclidean group. In this work, we delve into the design of improved learning algorithms for reinforcement learning and planning tasks that possess Euclidean group symmetry. We put forth a theory on that unify prior work on discrete and continuous symmetry in reinforcement learning, planning, and optimal control. Algorithm side, we further extend the 2D path planning with value-based planning to continuous MDPs and propose a pipeline for constructing equivariant sampling-based planning algorithms. Our work is substantiated with empirical evidence and illustrated through examples that explain the benefits of equivariance to Euclidean symmetry in tackling natural control problems.

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Real-world grasp detection is challenging due to the stochasticity in grasp dynamics and the noise in hardware. Ideally, the system would adapt to the real world by training directly on physical systems. However, this is generally difficult due to the large amount of training data required by most grasp learning models. In this paper, we note that the planar grasp function is $\SE(2)$-equivariant and demonstrate that this structure can be used to constrain the neural network used during learning. This creates an inductive bias that can significantly improve the sample efficiency of grasp learning and enable end-to-end training from scratch on a physical robot with as few as $600$ grasp attempts. We call this method Symmetric Grasp learning (SymGrasp) and show that it can learn to grasp ``from scratch'' in less that 1.5 hours of physical robot time.

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Although equivariant machine learning has proven effective at many tasks, success depends heavily on the assumption that the ground truth function is symmetric over the entire domain matching the symmetry in an equivariant neural network. A missing piece in the equivariant learning literature is the analysis of equivariant networks when symmetry exists only partially in the domain. In this work, we present a general theory for such a situation. We propose pointwise definitions of correct, incorrect, and extrinsic equivariance, which allow us to quantify continuously the degree of each type of equivariance a function displays. We then study the impact of various degrees of incorrect or extrinsic symmetry on model error. We prove error lower bounds for invariant or equivariant networks in classification or regression settings with partially incorrect symmetry. We also analyze the potentially harmful effects of extrinsic equivariance. Experiments validate these results in three different environments.

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Given point cloud input, the problem of 6-DoF grasp pose detection is to identify a set of hand poses in SE(3) from which an object can be successfully grasped. This important problem has many practical applications. Here we propose a novel method and neural network model that enables better grasp success rates relative to what is available in the literature. The method takes standard point cloud data as input and works well with single-view point clouds observed from arbitrary viewing directions.

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In robotic manipulation, acquiring samples is extremely expensive because it often requires interacting with the real world. Traditional image-level data augmentation has shown the potential to improve sample efficiency in various machine learning tasks. However, image-level data augmentation is insufficient for an imitation learning agent to learn good manipulation policies in a reasonable amount of demonstrations. We propose Simulation-augmented Equivariant Imitation Learning (SEIL), a method that combines a novel data augmentation strategy of supplementing expert trajectories with simulated transitions and an equivariant model that exploits the $\mathrm{O}(2)$ symmetry in robotic manipulation. Experimental evaluations demonstrate that our method can learn non-trivial manipulation tasks within ten demonstrations and outperforms the baselines with a significant margin.

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We study how group symmetry helps improve data efficiency and generalization for end-to-end differentiable planning algorithms, specifically on 2D robotic path planning problems: navigation and manipulation. We first formalize the idea from Value Iteration Networks (VINs) on using convolutional networks for path planning, because it avoids explicitly constructing equivalence classes and enable end-to-end planning. We then show that value iteration can always be represented as some convolutional form for (2D) path planning, and name the resulting paradigm Symmetric Planner (SymPlan). In implementation, we use steerable convolution networks to incorporate symmetry. Our algorithms on navigation and manipulation, with given or learned maps, improve training efficiency and generalization performance by large margins over non-equivariant counterparts, VIN and GPPN.

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We present BulletArm, a novel benchmark and learning-environment for robotic manipulation. BulletArm is designed around two key principles: reproducibility and extensibility. We aim to encourage more direct comparisons between robotic learning methods by providing a set of standardized benchmark tasks in simulation alongside a collection of baseline algorithms. The framework consists of 31 different manipulation tasks of varying difficulty, ranging from simple reaching and picking tasks to more realistic tasks such as bin packing and pallet stacking. In addition to the provided tasks, BulletArm has been built to facilitate easy expansion and provides a suite of tools to assist users when adding new tasks to the framework. Moreover, we introduce a set of five benchmarks and evaluate them using a series of state-of-the-art baseline algorithms. By including these algorithms as part of our framework, we hope to encourage users to benchmark their work on any new tasks against these baselines.

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Recently, equivariant neural network models have been shown to be useful in improving sample efficiency for tasks in computer vision and reinforcement learning. This paper explores this idea in the context of on-robot policy learning where a policy must be learned entirely on a physical robotic system without reference to a model, a simulator, or an offline dataset. We focus on applications of $\mathrm{SO}(2)$-Equivariant SAC to robotic manipulation and explore a number of variations of the algorithm. Ultimately, we demonstrate the ability to learn several non-trivial manipulation tasks completely through on-robot experiences in less than an hour or two of wall clock time.

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In planar grasp detection, the goal is to learn a function from an image of a scene onto a set of feasible grasp poses in $\mathrm{SE}(2)$. In this paper, we recognize that the optimal grasp function is $\mathrm{SE}(2)$-equivariant and can be modeled using an equivariant convolutional neural network. As a result, we are able to significantly improve the sample efficiency of grasp learning, obtaining a good approximation of the grasp function after only 600 grasp attempts. This is few enough that we can learn to grasp completely on a physical robot in about 1.5 hours.

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