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Generalizing Long-Horizon Extrinsic Manipulation from Single Demonstrations through Contact Retargeting

Core Concepts
A framework to generalize long-horizon extrinsic manipulation tasks from a single demonstration by retargeting the contact requirements to diverse object and environment configurations.
The paper proposes a method to generalize long-horizon extrinsic manipulation tasks from a single demonstration. The key insights are: Long-horizon extrinsic manipulation can be decomposed into a sequence of short-horizon primitives based on contact switches. The success of each primitive is highly dependent on satisfying the desired contact configuration. By retargeting the contact requirements from the demonstration to the test scene, the same primitive sequence can be executed in diverse environments. The approach involves: Preparing a library of short-horizon, goal-conditioned primitives that are robust to object and environment variations. Identifying the primitive sequence from the demonstration. Remapping the object states from the demonstration scene to the test scene while enforcing the contact requirements of each primitive. Combining the retargeted primitive sequence to achieve the manipulation objective. The method was extensively validated on hardware, achieving an overall success rate of 80.5% across 4 long-horizon extrinsic manipulation tasks involving 10 objects and 6 environment configurations. Ablation studies showed that contact retargeting is the key to successfully chaining the extrinsic manipulation primitives.
The paper does not contain any explicit numerical data or statistics. The key results are the overall success rates on the hardware experiments.
"Extrinsic manipulation, the use of environment contacts to achieve manipulation objectives, enables strategies that are otherwise impossible with a parallel jaw gripper." "We observe that most extrinsic manipulation are combinations of short-horizon primitives, each of which depend strongly on initializing from a desirable contact configuration to succeed." "By leveraging contact retargeting, our pipeline merely takes a single task demo of any primitive combination to achieve the same task in a distinct scene."

Deeper Inquiries

How can the contact retargeting framework be extended to handle more complex contact configurations, such as multi-point contacts or dynamic contacts

The contact retargeting framework can be extended to handle more complex contact configurations by incorporating advanced techniques for contact modeling and manipulation. For multi-point contacts, the framework can be enhanced to consider multiple contact points on the object and the environment simultaneously. This would involve defining and enforcing constraints for each contact point, ensuring that the object interacts with the environment at multiple specified locations. For dynamic contacts, the framework can be adapted to account for changing contact conditions during manipulation tasks. This could involve real-time monitoring of contact forces and adjusting the manipulation strategy accordingly. By integrating dynamic contact sensing and control algorithms, the system can respond to variations in contact dynamics and adapt the manipulation plan in real-time. Overall, by incorporating advanced contact modeling, sensing, and control techniques, the contact retargeting framework can be extended to handle more complex and dynamic contact configurations, enabling a wider range of manipulation tasks.

Can the proposed approach be integrated with high-level task and motion planning to enable more flexible and generalized extrinsic manipulation capabilities

The proposed approach can be integrated with high-level task and motion planning to enhance the flexibility and generality of extrinsic manipulation capabilities. By combining the contact-centric extrinsic manipulation framework with task and motion planning algorithms, the system can achieve more sophisticated manipulation tasks that involve complex sequences of actions and interactions with the environment. Task and motion planning can provide a higher-level structure for organizing the manipulation tasks, defining the sequence of primitives, and optimizing the overall manipulation strategy. The contact-centric framework can then be used to ensure that each primitive is executed successfully by enforcing the necessary contact configurations and constraints. Integrating the contact-centric extrinsic manipulation framework with task and motion planning enables the system to handle a broader range of manipulation scenarios, adapt to changing task requirements, and optimize the overall manipulation process for efficiency and robustness.

What are the potential applications of this contact-centric extrinsic manipulation framework beyond the specific tasks explored in this paper

The contact-centric extrinsic manipulation framework has potential applications beyond the specific tasks explored in the paper. Some potential applications include: Industrial Automation: The framework can be applied to industrial settings for tasks such as assembly, pick-and-place operations, and material handling. By leveraging environment contacts, robots can manipulate objects in complex and cluttered environments with greater flexibility and efficiency. Robotic Surgery: In minimally invasive surgery, robots can use extrinsic manipulation techniques to interact with delicate tissues and organs, enabling precise and controlled movements during surgical procedures. The framework can enhance the dexterity and adaptability of surgical robots in dynamic and constrained environments. Autonomous Vehicles: The framework can be utilized in autonomous vehicles for tasks such as object manipulation, obstacle avoidance, and interaction with the environment. By incorporating extrinsic manipulation capabilities, autonomous vehicles can perform complex maneuvers and interactions in real-world scenarios. Search and Rescue Operations: Robots equipped with the contact-centric manipulation framework can navigate through challenging terrains, manipulate objects to access inaccessible areas, and assist in search and rescue missions. The ability to leverage environment contacts enhances the robot's capabilities in dynamic and unpredictable environments. Overall, the contact-centric extrinsic manipulation framework has diverse applications across various industries and domains, enabling robots to perform complex manipulation tasks with precision and adaptability.