Robotic Imitation of Human Assembly Skills Using Hybrid Trajectory and Force Learning

Yan Wang, Cristian C. Beltran-Hernandez, Weiwei Wan, Kensuke Harada

Robotic assembly tasks involve complex and low-clearance insertion trajectories with varying contact forces at different stages. While the nominal motion trajectory can be easily obtained from human demonstrations through kinesthetic teaching, teleoperation, simulation, among other methods, the force profile is harder to obtain especially when a real robot is unavailable. It is difficult to obtain a realistic force profile in simulation even with physics engines. Such simulated force profiles tend to be unsuitable for the actual robotic assembly due to the reality gap and uncertainty in the assembly process. To address this problem, we present a combined learning-based framework to imitate human assembly skills through hybrid trajectory learning and force learning. The main contribution of this work is the development of a framework that combines hierarchical imitation learning, to learn the nominal motion trajectory, with a reinforcement learning-based force control scheme to learn an optimal force control policy, that can satisfy the nominal trajectory while adapting to the force requirement of the assembly task. To further improve the imitation learning part, we develop a hierarchical architecture, following the idea of goal-conditioned imitation learning, to generate the trajectory learning policy on the \textit{skill} level offline. Through experimental validations, we corroborate that the proposed learning-based framework is robust to uncertainty in the assembly task, can generate high-quality trajectories, and can find suitable force control policies, which adapt to the task's force requirements more efficiently.

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