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Robotic architectural assembly with tactile skills: Simulation and optimization

Boris Belousov; Bastian Wibranek; Jan Schneider; Tim Schneider; Georgia Chalvatzaki; Jan Peters; Oliver Tessmann
In: Automation in Construction, Vol. 133, Pages 1-10, Elsevier, 1/2022.


Construction is an industry that could benefit significantly from automation, yet still relies heavily on manual human labor. Thus, we investigate how a robotic arm can be used to assemble a structure from predefined discrete building blocks autonomously. Since assembling structures is a challenging task that involves complex contact dynamics, we propose to use a combination of reinforcement learning and planning for this task. In this work, we take a first step towards autonomous construction by training a controller to place a single building block in simulation. Our evaluations show that trial-and-error algorithms that have minimal prior knowledge about the problem to be solved, so called model-free deep reinforcement learning algorithms, can be successfully employed. We conclude that the achieved results, albeit imperfect, serve as a proof of concept and indicate the directions for further research to enable more complex assemblies involving multiple building elements.

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