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Adaptation and Robust Learning of Probabilistic Movement Primitives

Sebastián Gómez-González; Gerhard Neumann; Bernhard Schölkopf; Jan Peters
In: IEEE Transactions on Robotics (T-RO), Vol. 36, No. 2, Pages 366-379, IEEE, 2020.


Probabilistic representations of movement primitives open important new possibilities for machine learning in robotics. These representations are able to capture the variability of the demonstrations from a teacher as a probability distribution over trajectories, providing a sensible region of exploration and the ability to adapt to changes in the robot environment. However, to be able to capture variability and correlations between different joints, a probabilistic movement primitive requires the estimation of a larger number of parameters compared to their deterministic counterparts, that focus on modeling only the mean behavior. In this paper, we make use of prior distributions over the parameters of a probabilistic movement primitive to make robust estimates of the parameters with few training instances. In addition, we introduce general purpose operators to adapt movement primitives in joint and task space. The proposed training method and adaptation operators are tested in a coffee preparation and in robot table tennis task. In the coffee preparation task we evaluate the generalization performance to changes in the location of the coffee grinder and brewing chamber in a target area, achieving the desired behavior after only two demonstrations. In the table tennis task we evaluate the hit and return rates, outperforming previous approaches while using fewer task specific heuristics.

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