Graph network simulators can learn discontinuous, rigid contact dynamicsDownload PDF

Published: 10 Sept 2022, Last Modified: 05 May 2023CoRL 2022 PosterReaders: Everyone
Keywords: graph networks, contacts, rigid body dynamics, simulation
TL;DR: Graph network simulators can accurately and efficiently model discontinuous, rigid body contact
Abstract: Recent years have seen a rise in techniques for modeling discontinuous dynamics, such as rigid contact or switching motion modes, using deep learning. A common claim is that deep networks are incapable of accurately modeling rigid-body dynamics without explicit modules for handling contacts, due to the continuous nature of how deep networks are parameterized. Here we investigate this claim with experiments on established real and simulated datasets and show that general-purpose graph network simulators, with no contact-specific assumptions, can learn and predict contact discontinuities. Furthermore, contact dynamics learned by graph network simulators capture real-world cube tossing trajectories more accurately than highly engineered robotics simulators, even when provided with only 8 -- 16 trajectories. Overall, this suggests that rigid-body dynamics do not pose a fundamental challenge for deep networks with the appropriate general architecture and parameterization. Instead, our work opens new directions for considering when deep learning-based models might be preferable to traditional simulation environments for accurately modeling real-world contact dynamics.
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