Haptics-based Curiosity for Sparse-reward TasksDownload PDF

Published: 13 Sept 2021, Last Modified: 05 May 2023CoRL2021 PosterReaders: Everyone
Keywords: Intrinsic Motivation, Touch, Curiosity, Manipulation
Abstract: Robots in many real-world settings have access to force/torque sensors in their gripper and tactile sensing is often necessary for tasks that involve contact-rich motion. In this work, we leverage surprise from mismatches in haptics feedback to guide exploration in hard sparse-reward reinforcement learning tasks. Our approach, Haptics-based Curiosity (\method{}), learns what visible objects interactions are supposed to ``feel" like. We encourage exploration by rewarding interactions where the expectation and the experience do not match. We test our approach on a range of haptics-intensive robot arm tasks (e.g. pushing objects, opening doors), which we also release as part of this work. Across multiple experiments in a simulated setting, we demonstrate that our method is able to learn these difficult tasks through sparse reward and curiosity alone. We compare our cross-modal approach to single-modality (haptics- or vision-only) approaches as well as other curiosity-based methods and find that our method performs better and is more sample-efficient.
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