Keywords: learning, benchmarks, robotics
TL;DR: We propose a hardware based robotics benchmark for learning based methods and validate it across various lab setups.
Abstract: Benchmarks offer a scientific way to compare algorithms using objective performance metrics. Good benchmarks have two features: (a) they should be widely useful for many research groups; (b) and they should produce reproducible findings. In robotic manipulation research, there is a trade-off between reproducibility and broad accessibility. If the benchmark is kept restrictive (fixed hardware, objects), the numbers are reproducible but the setup becomes less general. On the other hand, a benchmark could be a loose set of protocols (e.g. object set) but the underlying variation in setups make the results non-reproducible. In this paper, we re-imagine benchmarking for robotic manipulation as state-of-the-art algorithmic implementations, alongside the usual set of tasks and experimental protocols. The added baseline implementations will provide a way to easily recreate SOTA numbers in a new local robotic setup, thus providing credible relative rankings between existing approaches and new work. However, these "local rankings" could vary between different setups. To resolve this issue, we build a mechanism for pooling experimental data between labs, and thus we establish a single global ranking for existing (and proposed) SOTA algorithms. Our benchmark, called Ranking-Based Robotics Benchmark (RB2), is evaluated on tasks that are inspired from clinically validated Southampton Hand Assessment Procedures. Our benchmark was run across two different labs and reveals several surprising findings. For example, extremely simple baselines like open-loop behavior cloning, outperform more complicated models (e.g. closed loop, RNN, Offline-RL, etc.) that are preferred by the field. We hope our fellow researchers will use RB2 to improve their research's quality and rigor.
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