Abstract: Soft robots have continuum solid bodies that can deform in an infinite number of ways. Controlling soft robots is very challenging as there are no closed form solutions. We present a learning-in-the-loop co-optimization algorithm in which a latent state representation is learned as the robot figures out how to solve the task. Our solution marries hybrid particle-grid-based simulation with deep, variational convolutional autoencoder architectures that can capture salient features of robot dynamics with high efficacy. We demonstrate our dynamics-aware feature learning algorithm on both 2D and 3D soft robots, and show that it is more robust and faster converging than the dynamics-oblivious baseline. We validate the behavior of our algorithm with visualizations of the learned representation.
Authors: Andrew Spielberg, Allan Zhao, Tao Du, Yuanming Hu, Daniela Rus, Wojciech Matusik (MIT)