Modeling and Learning of Complex Motor Tasks: A Case Study with Robot Table Tennis.
Technische Universität, Darmstadt
[Ph.D. Thesis], (2013)
Available under Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives, 2.5.
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|Item Type:||Ph.D. Thesis|
|Title:||Modeling and Learning of Complex Motor Tasks: A Case Study with Robot Table Tennis|
Most tasks that humans need to accomplished in their everyday life require certain motor skills. Although most motor skills seem to rely on the same elementary movements, humans are able to accomplish many different tasks. Robots, on the other hand, are still limited to a small number of skills and depend on well-defined environments. Modeling new motor behaviors is therefore an important research area in robotics. Computational models of human motor control are an essential step to construct robotic systems that are able to solve complex tasks in a human inhabited environment. These models can be the key for robust, efficient, and human-like movement plans. In turn, the reproduction of human-like behavior on a robotic system can be also beneficial for computational neuroscientists to verify their hypotheses. Although biomimetic models can be of great help in order to close the gap between human and robot motor abilities, these models are usually limited to the scenarios considered. However, one important property of human motor behavior is the ability to adapt skills to new situations and to learn new motor skills with relatively few trials. Domain-appropriate machine learning techniques, such as supervised and reinforcement learning, have a great potential to enable robotic systems to autonomously learn motor skills. In this thesis, we attempt to model and subsequently learn a complex motor task. As a test case for a complex motor task, we chose robot table tennis throughout this thesis. Table tennis requires a series of time critical movements which have to be selected and adapted according to environmental stimuli as well as the desired targets. We first analyze how humans play table tennis and create a computational model that results in human-like hitting motions on a robot arm. Our focus lies on generating motor behavior capable of adapting to variations and uncertainties in the environmental conditions. We evaluate the resulting biomimetic model both in a physically realistic simulation and on a real anthropomorphic seven degrees of freedom Barrett WAM robot arm. This biomimetic model based purely on analytical methods produces successful hitting motions, but does not feature the flexibility found in human motor behavior. We therefore suggest a new framework that allows a robot to learn cooperative table tennis from and with a human. Here, the robot first learns a set of elementary hitting movements from a human teacher by kinesthetic teach-in, which is compiled into a set of motor primitives. To generalize these movements to a wider range of situations we introduce the mixture of motor primitives algorithm. The resulting motor policy enables the robot to select appropriate motor primitives as well as to generalize between them. Furthermore, it also allows to adapt the selection process of the hitting movements based on the outcome of previous trials. The framework is evaluated both in simulation and on a real Barrett WAM robot. In consecutive experiments, we show that our approach allows the robot to return balls from a ball launcher and furthermore to play table tennis with a human partner. Executing robot movements using a biomimetic or learned approach enables the robot to return balls successfully. However, in motor tasks with a competitive goal such as table tennis, the robot not only needs to return the balls successfully in order to accomplish the task, it also needs an adaptive strategy. Such a higher-level strategy cannot be programed manually as it depends on the opponent and the abilities of the robot. We therefore make a first step towards the goal of acquiring such a strategy and investigate the possibility of inferring strategic information from observing humans playing table tennis. We model table tennis as a Markov decision problem, where the reward function captures the goal of the task as well as knowledge on effective elements of a basic strategy. We show how this reward function, and therefore the strategic information can be discovered with model-free inverse reinforcement learning from human table tennis matches. The approach is evaluated on data collected from players with different playing styles and skill levels. We show that the resulting reward functions are able to capture expert-specific strategic information that allow to distinguish the expert among players with different playing skills as well as different playing styles. To summarize, in this thesis, we have derived a computational model for table tennis that was successfully implemented on a Barrett WAM robot arm and that has proven to produce human-like hitting motions. We also introduced a framework for learning a complex motor task based on a library of demonstrated hitting primitives. To select and generalize these hitting movements we developed the mixture of motor primitives algorithm where the selection process can be adapted online based on the success of the synthesized hitting movements. The setup was tested on a real robot, which showed that the resulting robot table tennis player is able to play a cooperative game against an human opponent. Finally, we could show that it is possible to infer basic strategic information in table tennis from observing matches of human players using model-free inverse reinforcement learning.
|Place of Publication:||Darmstadt|
|Classification DDC:||000 Allgemeines, Informatik, Informationswissenschaft > 004 Informatik|
|Divisions:||20 Department of Computer Science
20 Department of Computer Science > Intelligent Autonomous Systems
|Date Deposited:||22 Aug 2013 10:50|
|Last Modified:||22 Aug 2013 10:50|
|Referees:||Peters, Prof. Dr. Jan and Asfour, Prof. Dr. Tamim|
|Refereed:||23 July 2013|