Furniture assembly remains an unsolved problem in robotic manipulation due to its long task horizon and nongeneralizable operations plan. This paper presents the Tactile Ensemble Skill Transfer (TEST) framework, a pioneering offline reinforcement learning (RL) approach that incorporates tactile feedback in the control loop. TEST’s core design is to learn a skill transition model for high-level planning, along with a set of adaptive intra-skill goal-reaching policies. Such design aims to solve the robotic furniture assembly problem in a more generalizable way, facilitating seamless chaining of skills for this long-horizon task. We first sample demonstration from a set of heuristic policies and trajectories consisting of a set of randomized sub-skill segments, enabling the acquisition of rich robot trajectories that capture skill stages, robot states, visual indicators, and crucially, tactile signals. Leveraging these trajectories, our offline RL method discerns skill termination conditions and coordinates skill transitions. Our evaluations highlight the proficiency of TEST on the in-distribution furniture assemblies, its adaptability to unseen furniture configurations, and its robustness against visual disturbances. Ablation studies further accentuate the pivotal role of two algorithmic components, i.e. the skill transition model and tactile ensemble policies. Results indicate that TEST can achieve a success rate of 90% and is over 4 times more efficient than the heuristic policy in both in-distribution and generalization settings, suggesting a scalable skill transfer approach for contact-rich manipulation.
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