Keywords: differentiable rendering, differentiable simulation, system identification
Abstract: This work considers identifying parameters characterizing a physical system's dynamic motion directly from a video whose rendering configurations are inaccessible. Existing solutions require massive training data or lack generalizability to unknown rendering configurations. We propose a novel approach that marries domain randomization and differentiable rendering gradients to address this problem. Our core idea is to train a rendering-invariant state-prediction (RISP) network that transforms image differences into state differences independent of rendering configurations, e.g., lighting, shadows, or material reflectance. To train this predictor, we formulate a new loss on rendering variances using gradients from differentiable rendering. Moreover, we present an efficient, second-order method to compute the gradients of this loss, allowing it to be integrated seamlessly into modern deep learning frameworks. We evaluate our method in rigid-body and deformable-body simulation environments using four tasks: state estimation, system identification, imitation learning, and visuomotor control. We further demonstrate the efficacy of our approach on a real-world example: inferring the state and action sequences of a quadrotor from a video of its motion sequences. Compared with existing methods, our approach achieves significantly lower reconstruction errors and has better generalizability among unknown rendering configurations.
One-sentence Summary: We propose a novel approach to address the problem of identifying parameters characterizing a physical system's dynamic motion directly from a video whose rendering configurations are inaccessible.