Tag Archives: Context-free Grammars

Modelling robot motion sequences through context-free grammars

Rudolf Lioutikov, Guilherme Maeda, Filipe Veiga, Kristian Kersting, Jan Peters, Learning attribute grammars for movement primitive sequencing, The International Journal of Robotics Research, Vol 39, Issue 1, 2020, DOI: 10.1177/0278364919868279.

Movement primitives are a well studied and widely applied concept in modern robotics. However, composing primitives out of an existing library has shown to be a challenging problem. We propose the use of probabilistic context-free grammars to sequence a series of primitives to generate complex robot policies from a given library of primitives. The rule-based nature of formal grammars allows an intuitive encoding of hierarchically structured tasks. This hierarchical concept strongly connects with the way robot policies can be learned, organized, and re-used. However, the induction of context-free grammars has proven to be a complicated and yet unsolved challenge. We exploit the physical nature of robot movement primitives to restrict and efficiently search the grammar space. The grammar is learned by applying a Markov chain Monte Carlo optimization over the posteriors of the grammars given the observations. The proposal distribution is defined as a mixture over the probabilities of the operators connecting the search space. Moreover, we present an approach for the categorization of probabilistic movement primitives and discuss how the connectibility of two primitives can be determined. These characteristics in combination with restrictions to the operators guarantee continuous sequences while reducing the grammar space. In addition, a set of attributes and conditions is introduced that augments probabilistic context-free grammars in order to solve primitive sequencing tasks with the capability to adapt single primitives within the sequence. The method was validated on tasks that require the generation of complex sequences consisting of simple movement primitives using a seven-degree-of-freedom lightweight robotic arm.