Vestri the robot imagines how to perform tasks

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UC Berkeley

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Shared December 4, 2017

UC Berkeley researchers have developed a robotic learning technology that enables robots to imagine the future of their actions so they can figure out how to manipulate objects they have never encountered before. In the future, this technology could help self-driving cars anticipate future events on the road and produce more intelligent robotic assistants in homes, but the initial prototype focuses on learning simple manual skills entirely from autonomous play.

Using this technology, called visual foresight, the robots can predict what their cameras will see if they perform a particular sequence of movements. These robotic imaginations are still relatively simple for now – predictions made only several seconds into the future – but they are enough for the robot to figure out how to move objects around on a table without disturbing obstacles. Crucially, the robot can learn to perform these tasks without any help from humans or prior knowledge about physics, its environment or what the objects are. That’s because the visual imagination is learned entirely from scratch from unattended and unsupervised exploration, where the robot plays with objects on a table. After this play phase, the robot builds a predictive model of the world, and can use this model to manipulate new objects that it has not seen before.

“In the same way that we can imagine how our actions will move the objects in our environment, this method can enable a robot to visualize how different behaviors will affect the world around it,” said Sergey Levine, assistant professor in Berkeley’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, whose lab developed the technology. “This can enable intelligent planning of highly flexible skills in complex real-world situations.”
The research team will perform a demonstration of the visual foresight technology at the Neural Information Processing Systems conference in Long Beach, California, on December 5.

At the core of this system is a deep learning technology based on convolutional recurrent video prediction, or dynamic neural advection (DNA). DNA-based models predict how pixels in an image will move from one frame to the next based on the robot’s actions. Recent improvements to this class of models, as well as greatly improved planning capabilities, have enabled robotic control based on video prediction to perform increasingly complex tasks, such as sliding toys around obstacles and repositioning multiple objects.

“In that past, robots have learned skills with a human supervisor helping and providing feedback. What makes this work exciting is that the robots can learn a range of visual object manipulation skills entirely on their own,” said Chelsea Finn, a doctoral student in Levine’s lab and inventor of the original DNA model.

Full Story:

Featured researchers: Assistant Professor, Sergey Levine, doctoral student, Chelsea Finn, graduate student, Frederik Ebert

Video by Roxanne Makasdjian and Stephen McNally

Music: "Plastic of Paper" by Wes Hutchinson, "New Phantom" and "Believer" by Silent Partner

Avi Mohan

Another important consequence of these studies is that they will eventually shed a lot of light on how our brains work. Hopefully, that knowledge can in turn be used to cure several neurological and psychological disorders.

2 years ago | [YT] | 8


And it runs on Linux Mint. Nice :)

2 years ago | [YT] | 0

CJ Londonio

I hate it how Vestri's screen is an image of WALL-E.

8 months ago | [YT] | 0

Joe Nickence

Visual foresight is cool, even if it's just a bit unnerving.

2 years ago | [YT] | 0

Diego Weissel

1:33 modern disabled boring humans foolishly recurring to wheelchair car driving as example, you don't have lives? Ah I see.. that's why you develop robots

2 years ago (edited) | [YT] | 0

Tanis Mar

Video prediction is really cool, but people have been doing motor babbling and more in general developmental robotics for decades. Novelty should be discussed around the method, not the concept

2 years ago | [YT] | 0