See, feel, act: Hierarchical learning for complex manipulation skills with multisensory fusion

N. Fazeli, M. Oller, J. Wu, Z. Wu, J. B. Tenenbaum, A. Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Humans are able to seamlessly integrate tactile and visual stimuli with their intuitions to explore and execute complex manipulation skills. They not only see but also feel their actions. Most current robotic learning methodologies exploit recent progress in computer vision and deep learning to acquire data-hungry pixel-to-action policies. These methodologies do not exploit intuitive latent structure in physics or tactile signatures. Tactile reasoning is omnipresent in the animal kingdom, yet it is underdeveloped in robotic manipulation. Tactile stimuli are only acquired through invasive interaction, and interpretation of the data stream together with visual stimuli is challenging. Here, we propose a methodology to emulate hierarchical reasoning and multisensory fusion in a robot that learns to play Jenga, a complex game that requires physical interaction to be played effectively. The game mechanics were formulated as a generative process using a temporal hierarchical Bayesian model, with representations for both behavioral archetypes and noisy block states. This model captured descriptive latent structures, and the robot learned probabilistic models of these relationships in force and visual domains through a short exploration phase. Once learned, the robot used this representation to infer block behavior patterns and states as it played the game. Using its inferred beliefs, the robot adjusted its behavior with respect to both its current actions and its game strategy, similar to the way humans play the game. We evaluated the performance of the approach against three standard baselines and show its fidelity on a real-world implementation of the game.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereaav3123
JournalScience Robotics
Issue number26
StatePublished - Jan 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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