Vision language models (VLMs) have shown impressive capabilities across a variety of tasks, from logical reasoning to visual understanding. This opens the door to richer interaction with the world, for example robotic control. However, VLMs produce only textual outputs, while robotic control and other spatial tasks require outputting continuous coordinates, actions, or trajectories. How can we enable VLMs to handle such settings without fine-tuning on task-specific data? In this paper, we propose a novel visual prompting approach for VLMs that we call Prompting with Iterative Visual Optimization (PIVOT), which casts tasks as iterative visual question answering. In each iteration, the image is annotated with a visual representation of proposals that the VLM can refer to (e.g., candidate robot actions, localizations, or trajectories). The VLM then selects the best ones for the task. These proposals are iteratively refined, allowing the VLM to eventually zero in on the best available answer. We investigate PIVOT on real-world robotic navigation, real-world manipulation from images, instruction following in simulation, and additional spatial inference tasks such as localization. We find, perhaps surprisingly, that our approach enables zero-shot control of robotic systems without any robot training data, navigation in a variety of environments, and other capabilities. Although current performance is far from perfect, our work highlights potentials and limitations of this new regime and shows a promising approach for Internet-Scale VLMs in robotic and spatial reasoning domains. Website: pivot-prompt.github.io and HuggingFace: https://huggingface.co/spaces/pivot-prompt/pivot-prompt-demo.
Two desiderata of reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms are the ability to learn from relatively little experience and the ability to learn policies that generalize to a range of problem specifications. In factored state spaces, one approach towards achieving both goals is to learn state abstractions, which only keep the necessary variables for learning the tasks at hand. This paper introduces Causal Bisimulation Modeling (CBM), a method that learns the causal relationships in the dynamics and reward functions for each task to derive a minimal, task-specific abstraction. CBM leverages and improves implicit modeling to train a high-fidelity causal dynamics model that can be reused for all tasks in the same environment. Empirical validation on manipulation environments and Deepmind Control Suite reveals that CBM's learned implicit dynamics models identify the underlying causal relationships and state abstractions more accurately than explicit ones. Furthermore, the derived state abstractions allow a task learner to achieve near-oracle levels of sample efficiency and outperform baselines on all tasks.
We survey applications of pretrained foundation models in robotics. Traditional deep learning models in robotics are trained on small datasets tailored for specific tasks, which limits their adaptability across diverse applications. In contrast, foundation models pretrained on internet-scale data appear to have superior generalization capabilities, and in some instances display an emergent ability to find zero-shot solutions to problems that are not present in the training data. Foundation models may hold the potential to enhance various components of the robot autonomy stack, from perception to decision-making and control. For example, large language models can generate code or provide common sense reasoning, while vision-language models enable open-vocabulary visual recognition. However, significant open research challenges remain, particularly around the scarcity of robot-relevant training data, safety guarantees and uncertainty quantification, and real-time execution. In this survey, we study recent papers that have used or built foundation models to solve robotics problems. We explore how foundation models contribute to improving robot capabilities in the domains of perception, decision-making, and control. We discuss the challenges hindering the adoption of foundation models in robot autonomy and provide opportunities and potential pathways for future advancements. The GitHub project corresponding to this paper (Preliminary release. We are committed to further enhancing and updating this work to ensure its quality and relevance) can be found here: https://github.com/robotics-survey/Awesome-Robotics-Foundation-Models
Regression loss design is an essential topic for oriented object detection. Due to the periodicity of the angle and the ambiguity of width and height definition, traditional L1-distance loss and its variants have been suffered from the metric discontinuity and the square-like problem. As a solution, the distribution based methods show significant advantages by representing oriented boxes as distributions. Differing from exploited the Gaussian distribution to get analytical form of distance measure, we propose a novel oriented regression loss, Wasserstein Distance(EWD) loss, to alleviate the square-like problem. Specifically, for the oriented box(OBox) representation, we choose a specially-designed distribution whose probability density function is only nonzero over the edges. On this basis, we develop Wasserstein distance as the measure. Besides, based on the edge representation of OBox, the EWD loss can be generalized to quadrilateral and polynomial regression scenarios. Experiments on multiple popular datasets and different detectors show the effectiveness of the proposed method.
We introduce LOTUS, a continual imitation learning algorithm that empowers a physical robot to continuously and efficiently learn to solve new manipulation tasks throughout its lifespan. The core idea behind LOTUS is constructing an ever-growing skill library from a sequence of new tasks with a small number of human demonstrations. LOTUS starts with a continual skill discovery process using an open-vocabulary vision model, which extracts skills as recurring patterns presented in unsegmented demonstrations. Continual skill discovery updates existing skills to avoid catastrophic forgetting of previous tasks and adds new skills to solve novel tasks. LOTUS trains a meta-controller that flexibly composes various skills to tackle vision-based manipulation tasks in the lifelong learning process. Our comprehensive experiments show that LOTUS outperforms state-of-the-art baselines by over 11% in success rate, showing its superior knowledge transfer ability compared to prior methods. More results and videos can be found on the project website: https://ut-austin-rpl.github.io/Lotus/.
We introduce AMAGO, an in-context Reinforcement Learning (RL) agent that uses sequence models to tackle the challenges of generalization, long-term memory, and meta-learning. Recent works have shown that off-policy learning can make in-context RL with recurrent policies viable. Nonetheless, these approaches require extensive tuning and limit scalability by creating key bottlenecks in agents' memory capacity, planning horizon, and model size. AMAGO revisits and redesigns the off-policy in-context approach to successfully train long-sequence Transformers over entire rollouts in parallel with end-to-end RL. Our agent is uniquely scalable and applicable to a wide range of problems. We demonstrate its strong performance empirically in meta-RL and long-term memory domains. AMAGO's focus on sparse rewards and off-policy data also allows in-context learning to extend to goal-conditioned problems with challenging exploration. When combined with a novel hindsight relabeling scheme, AMAGO can solve a previously difficult category of open-world domains, where agents complete many possible instructions in procedurally generated environments. We evaluate our agent on three goal-conditioned domains and study how its individual improvements connect to create a generalist policy.
Imitation learning from a large set of human demonstrations has proved to be an effective paradigm for building capable robot agents. However, the demonstrations can be extremely costly and time-consuming to collect. We introduce MimicGen, a system for automatically synthesizing large-scale, rich datasets from only a small number of human demonstrations by adapting them to new contexts. We use MimicGen to generate over 50K demonstrations across 18 tasks with diverse scene configurations, object instances, and robot arms from just ~200 human demonstrations. We show that robot agents can be effectively trained on this generated dataset by imitation learning to achieve strong performance in long-horizon and high-precision tasks, such as multi-part assembly and coffee preparation, across broad initial state distributions. We further demonstrate that the effectiveness and utility of MimicGen data compare favorably to collecting additional human demonstrations, making it a powerful and economical approach towards scaling up robot learning. Datasets, simulation environments, videos, and more at https://mimicgen.github.io .
The ability to learn and refine behavior after deployment has become ever more important for robots as we design them to operate in unstructured environments like households. In this work, we design a new learning system based on large language model (LLM), OLAF, that allows everyday users to teach a robot using verbal corrections when the robot makes mistakes, e.g., by saying "Stop what you're doing. You should move closer to the cup." A key feature of OLAF is its ability to update the robot's visuomotor neural policy based on the verbal feedback to avoid repeating mistakes in the future. This is in contrast to existing LLM-based robotic systems, which only follow verbal commands or corrections but not learn from them. We demonstrate the efficacy of our design in experiments where a user teaches a robot to perform long-horizon manipulation tasks both in simulation and on physical hardware, achieving on average 20.0% improvement in policy success rate. Videos and more results are at https://ut-austin-rpl.github.io/olaf/
Robot learning methods have recently made great strides, but generalization and robustness challenges still hinder their widespread deployment. Failing to detect and address potential failures renders state-of-the-art learning systems not combat-ready for high-stakes tasks. Recent advances in interactive imitation learning have presented a promising framework for human-robot teaming, enabling the robots to operate safely and continually improve their performances over long-term deployments. Nonetheless, existing methods typically require constant human supervision and preemptive feedback, limiting their practicality in realistic domains. This work aims to endow a robot with the ability to monitor and detect errors during task execution. We introduce a model-based runtime monitoring algorithm that learns from deployment data to detect system anomalies and anticipate failures. Unlike prior work that cannot foresee future failures or requires failure experiences for training, our method learns a latent-space dynamics model and a failure classifier, enabling our method to simulate future action outcomes and detect out-of-distribution and high-risk states preemptively. We train our method within an interactive imitation learning framework, where it continually updates the model from the experiences of the human-robot team collected using trustworthy deployments. Consequently, our method reduces the human workload needed over time while ensuring reliable task execution. Our method outperforms the baselines across system-level and unit-test metrics, with 23% and 40% higher success rates in simulation and on physical hardware, respectively. More information at https://ut-austin-rpl.github.io/sirius-runtime-monitor/