Scalable sim-to-real transfer of soft robot designs

by   Sam Kriegman, et al.

The manual design of soft robots and their controllers is notoriously challenging, but it could be augmented—or, in some cases, entirely replaced—by automated design tools. Machine learning algorithms can automatically propose, test, and refine designs in simulation, and the most promising ones can then be manufactured in reality (sim2real). However, it is currently not known how to guarantee that behavior generated in simulation can be preserved when deployed in reality. Although many previous studies have devised training protocols that facilitate sim2real transfer of control polices, little to no work has investigated the simulation-reality gap as a function of morphology. This is due in part to an overall lack of tools capable of systematically designing and rapidly manufacturing robots. Here we introduce a low cost, open source, and modular soft robot design and construction kit, and use it to simulate, fabricate, and measure the simulation-reality gap of minimally complex yet soft, locomoting machines. We prove the scalability of this approach by transferring an order of magnitude more robot designs from simulation to reality than any other method. The kit and its instructions can be found here:


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