VisuoSpatial Foresight for physical sequential fabric manipulation

Publication Date: October 3, 2022

Hoque, R., Seita, D., Balakrishna, A. et al. VisuoSpatial Foresight for physical sequential fabric manipulation. Auton Robot 46, 175–199 (2022).

Abstract Robotic fabric manipulation has applications in home robotics, textiles, senior care and surgery. Existing fabric manipulation techniques, however, are designed for specific tasks, making it difficult to generalize across different but related tasks. We build upon the Visual Foresight framework to learn fabric dynamics that can be efficiently reused to accomplish different sequential fabric manipulation tasks with a single goal-conditioned policy. We extend our earlier work on VisuoSpatial Foresight (VSF), which learns visual dynamics on domain randomized RGB images and depth maps simultaneously and completely in simulation. In this earlier work, we evaluated VSF on multi-step fabric smoothing and folding tasks against 5 baseline methods in simulation and on the da Vinci Research Kit surgical robot without any demonstrations at train or test time. A key finding was that depth sensing significantly improves performance: RGBD data yields an 80%80% improvement in fabric folding success rate in simulation over pure RGB data. In this work, we vary 4 components of VSF, including data generation, visual dynamics model, cost function, and optimization procedure. Results suggest that training visual dynamics models using longer, corner-based actions can improve the efficiency of fabric folding by 76% and enable a physical sequential fabric folding task that VSF could not previously perform with 90% reliability. Code, data, videos, and supplementary material are available at