DeepMind acquires MuJoCo physics engine for robotics research

, an AI research lab and subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., acquired the MuJoCo physics for robotics research and development. DeepMind is currently working to open-source MuJoCo and make it free for everyone in 2022.

When open-sourcing the system is complete, the GitHub repository will become the new home for MuJoco. Customers with existing paid licenses for MuJoCo can go to roboti.us for continued support.

MuJoCo, which stands for Multi-Joint Dynamics with Contact, is a physics engine that aims to facilitate R&D in robotics, biomechanics, graphics and animation, and other areas where fast and accurate simulation is needed. Initially developed by Roboti LLC, it is a C/C++ library with a C API. The runtime simulation module is tuned to maximize performance and operates on low-level data structures which are preallocated by the built-in XML parser and compiler.

The user defines models in the native MJCF scene description language – an XML file format designed to be as human readable and editable as possible. URDF model files can also be loaded. The library includes interactive visualization with a native GUI, rendered in OpenGL.

MuJoCo can be used to implement model-based computations such as control synthesis, state estimation, system identification, mechanism design, data analysis through inverse dynamics, and parallel sampling for machine learning applications. It can also be used as a more traditional simulator, including for gaming and interactive virtual environments.

One example of robotics research that used MuJoco was the Shadow hand from OpenAI. OpenAI developed a model that enabled a single-handed solution to a Rubik’s cube. OpenAI has since abandoned robotics research altogether, but it captured the community’s attention with this research.

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