Complex and contact-rich robotic manipulation tasks, particularly those that involve multi-fingered hands and underactuated object manipulation, present a significant challenge to any control method. Methods based on reinforcement learning offer an appealing choice for such settings, as they can enable robots to learn to delicately balance contact forces and dexterously reposition objects without strong modeling assumptions. However, running reinforcement learning on real-world dexterous manipulation systems often requires significant manual engineering. This negates the benefits of autonomous data collection and ease of use that reinforcement learning should in principle provide. In this paper, we describe a system for vision-based dexterous manipulation that provides a "programming-free" approach for users to define new tasks and enable robots with complex multi-fingered hands to learn to perform them through interaction. The core principle underlying our system is that, in a vision-based setting, users should be able to provide high-level intermediate supervision that circumvents challenges in teleoperation or kinesthetic teaching which allow a robot to not only learn a task efficiently but also to autonomously practice. Our system includes a framework for users to define a final task and intermediate sub-tasks with image examples, a reinforcement learning procedure that learns the task autonomously without interventions, and experimental results with a four-finger robotic hand learning multi-stage object manipulation tasks directly in the real world, without simulation, manual modeling, or reward engineering.
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