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Learning to predict phases of manipulation tasks as hidden states

Oliver Kroemer; Herke van Hoof; Gerhard Neumann; Jan Peters
In: 2014 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA-2014), May 31 - June 7, Hong Kong, China, Pages 4009-4014, IEEE, 2014.


Phase transitions in manipulation tasks often occur when contacts between objects are made or broken. A switch of the phase can result in the robot's actions suddenly influencing different aspects of its environment. Therefore, the boundaries between phases often correspond to constraints or subgoals of the manipulation task. In this paper, we investigate how the phases of manipulation tasks can be learned from data. The task is modeled as an autoregressive hidden Markov model, wherein the hidden phase transitions depend on the observed states. The model is learned from data using the expectation-maximization algorithm. We demonstrate the proposed method on both a pushing task and a pepper mill turning task. The proposed approach was compared to a standard autoregressive hidden Markov model. The experiments show that the learned models can accurately predict the transitions in phases during the manipulation tasks.

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