3. Transferring Policies from Isaac Gym Preview Releases¶

Current users of Isaac Gym Preview Releases may be interested in transferring a policy trained using an Isaac Gym Preview Release to Isaac Sim with the new Omniverse Isaac Gym. This section delineates some of the differences between the Isaac Gym Preview Releases and the Isaac Sim RL extensions in hopes of facilitating the process of transferring policies trained in the Isaac Gym Preview Releases to Isaac Sim.

3.1. Learning Objectives¶

In this tutorial, we will walk through some key differences between Isaac Gym Preview Releases and Isaac Sim. We will cover

1. Differences in quaternion convention and joint ordering

2. Differences in physics parameters and APIs

3. Differences in task and training configuration files

10-15 Minute Tutorial

3.2. Getting Started¶

• Please refer to previous tutorials in the Reinforcement Learning Tutorials series to learn about RL extensions in Isaac Sim.

• Please refer to Isaac Gym for more details on Standalone Isaac Gym.

3.3. Quaternion Convention¶

The Isaac Sim RL extensions use various classes and methods in omni.isaac.core, which adopts wxyz as the quaternion convention. However, the quaternion convention used in Isaac Gym Preview Releases is xyzw. Therefore, if a policy trained in one of the Isaac Gym Preview Releases takes in quaternions as part of its observations, remember to switch all quaternions to use the xyzw convention in the observation buffer self.obs_buf. Similarly, please ensure all quaternions are in wxyz before passing them in any of the utility functions in omni.isaac.core.

3.4. Joint Order¶

Isaac Sim’s ArticulationView in omni.isaac.core assumes a breadth-first ordering for the joints in a given kinematic tree. Specifically, for the following kinematic tree, the method ArticulationView.get_joint_positions returns a tensor of shape (number of articulations in the view, number of joints in the articulation). Along the second dimension of this tensor, the values represent the articulation’s joint positions in the following order: [Joint 1, Joint 2, Joint 4, Joint 3, Joint 5]. On the other hand, the Isaac Gym Preview Releases assume a depth-first ordering for the joints in the kinematic tree; In the example below, the joint orders would be the following: [Joint 1, Joint 2, Joint 3, Joint 4, Joint 5].

With this in mind, it is important to change the joint order to depth-first in the observation buffer before feeding it into an existing policy trained in one of the Isaac Gym Preview Releases. Similarly, you would also need to change the joint order in the output (the action buffer) of the Isaac Gym Preview Release trained policy to breadth-first before applying joint actions to articulations via methods in ArticulationView.

3.5. Physics Parameters¶

One factor that could dictate the success of policy transfer from Isaac Gym Preview Releases to Isaac Sim is to ensure the physics parameters used in both simulations are identical or very similar. In general, the sim parameters specified in the task configuration yaml file overwrite the corresponding parameters in the USD asset. However, there are additional parameters in the USD asset that are not included in the task configuration yaml file. These additional parameters may sometimes impact the performance of Isaac Gym Preview Release trained policies and hence need modifications in the USD asset itself to match the values set in Isaac Gym Preview Releases.

For instance, the following parameters in the RigidBodyAPI could be modified in the USD asset to yield better policy transfer performance:

RigidBodyAPI Parameter

Default Value in Isaac Sim

Default Value in Isaac Gym Preview Releases

Linear Damping

0.00

0.00

Angular Damping

0.05

0.0

Max Linear Velocity

inf

1000

Max Angular Velocity

5729.58008 (degree/s)

Max Contact Impulse

inf

1e32

Parameters in the JointAPI as well as the DriveAPI could be altered as well. Note that the Isaac Sim UI assumes the unit of angle to be degrees. It is particularly worth noting that the Damping and Stiffness paramters in the DriveAPI have the unit of 1/deg in the Isaac Sim UI but 1/rad in Isaac Gym Preview Releases.

Joint Parameter

Default Value in Isaac Sim

Default Value in Isaac Gym Preview Releases

Maximum Joint Velocity

1000000.0 (deg)

3.6. Differences in API¶

APIs for accessing physics states in Isaac Sim require the creation of an ArticulationView or RigidPrimView object. Multiple view objects can be initialized for different articulations or bodies in the scene by defining a regex expression that matches the paths of the desired objects. This approach eliminates the need of retrieving body handles to slice states for specific bodies in the scene.

We have also removed acquire and refresh APIs in Isaac Sim. Physics states can be directly applied or retrieved by using set/get APIs defined for the views. New APIs provided in Isaac Sim no longer require explicit wrapping and un-wrapping of underlying buffers. APIs can now work with tensors directly for reading and writing data. Most APIs in Isaac Sim also provide the option to specify an indices parameter, which can be used when reading or writing data for a subset of environments. Note that when setting states with the indices parameter, the shape of the states buffer should match with the dimension of the indices list.

Note some naming differences between APIs in Isaac Gym Preview Release and Isaac Sim. Most dof related APIs have been named to joint in Isaac Sim. root_states is now separated into different APIs for world_poses and velocities. Similary, dof_states are retrieved individually in Isaac Sim as joint_positions and joint_velocities. APIs in Isaac Sim also no longer follow the explicit _tensors or _tensor_indexed suffixes in naming. Indexed versions of APIs now happen implicitly through the optional indices parameter.

As part of our API improvements, we are defining a new set of contact APIs that aim to provide more useful details on contacts and collisions. This will be a replacement of net_contact_force in the Isaac Gym Preview Release and will be available in the next release of Isaac Sim. For now, Isaac Sim does not provide a tensorized API for collecting contacts.

3.7. Task Configuration Files¶

There are a few modifications that need to be made to an existing Isaac Gym Preview Release task yaml file in order for it to be compatible with the Isaac Sim RL extensions.

3.7.1. Frequencies of Physics Simulation and RL Policy¶

The way in which physics simulation frequency and RL policy frequency are specified is different between Isaac Gym Preview Releases and Isaac Sim, dictated by the following three parameters: dt, substeps, and controlFrequencyInv.

• dt: The simulation time difference between each simulation step.

• substeps: The number of physics steps within one simulation step. i.e. if dt: 1/60 and substeps: 4, physics is simulated at 240 hz and 4 physics step will run per rendering step.

• controlFrequencyInv: The control decimation of the RL policy, which is the number of simulation steps between RL actions. i.e. if dt: 1/60 and controlFrequencyInv: 2, RL policy is running at 30 hz.

In Isaac Gym Preview Releases, all three of the above parameters are used to specify the frequencies of physics simulation and RL policy. However, Isaac Sim only uses controlFrequencyInv and dt as substeps is always fixed at 1. Note that despite only using two parameters, Isaac Sim can still achieve the same substeps definition as Isaac Gym. For example, if in an Isaac Gym Preview Release policy, we set substeps: 2, dt: 1/60 and controlFrequencyInv: 1, we can achieve the equivalent in Isaac Sim by setting controlFrequencyInv: 2 and dt: 1/120.

In the Isaac Sim RL extensions, dt is specified in the task configuration yaml file under sim, whereas controlFrequencyInv is a parameter under env.

3.7.2. Physx Parameters¶

Parameters under physx in the task configuration yaml file remain mostly unchanged.

In Isaac Gym Preview Releases, use_gpu is frequently set to ${contains:”cuda”,${….sim_device}}. For Isaac Sim, please ensure this is changed to ${eq:${….sim_device},”gpu”}.

In Isaac Gym Preview Releases, GPU buffer sizes are specified using the following two parameters: default_buffer_size_multiplier and max_gpu_contact_pairs. With the Isaac Sim RL extensions, these two parameters are no longer used; instead, the various GPU buffer sizes can be set explicitly. For instance, GPU buffer sizes for the humanoid task are specified as follows:

gpu_max_rigid_contact_count: 524288
gpu_max_rigid_patch_count: 81920
gpu_found_lost_pairs_capacity: 8192
gpu_found_lost_aggregate_pairs_capacity: 262144
gpu_total_aggregate_pairs_capacity: 8192
gpu_max_soft_body_contacts: 1048576
gpu_max_particle_contacts: 1048576
gpu_heap_capacity: 67108864
gpu_temp_buffer_capacity: 16777216
gpu_max_num_partitions: 8


3.7.3. Articulation Parameters¶

The articulation parameters of each actor can now be individually specified tn the Isaac Sim task configuration yaml file. The following is an example template for setting these parameters:

ARTICULATION_NAME:
# -1 to use default values
override_usd_defaults: False
fixed_base: False
enable_self_collisions: True
enable_gyroscopic_forces: True
# per-actor
solver_position_iteration_count: 4
solver_velocity_iteration_count: 0
sleep_threshold: 0.005
stabilization_threshold: 0.001
# per-body
density: -1
max_depenetration_velocity: 10.0


3.7.4. Additional Simulation Parameters¶

• use_flatcache: Setting this paramter to True enables PhysX Flatcache, which offers a significant increase in simulation speed. However, this parameter must be set to False if soft-body simulation is required because PhysX Flatcache curently only supports rigid-body simulation.

• enable_scene_query_support: Setting this paramter to True allows the user to interact with prims in the scene. Keeping this setting to False during training improves simulation speed. Note that this parameter is always set to True if in test/inference mode to enable user interaction with trained models.

3.8. Training Configuration Files¶

The Omniverse Isaac Gym RL Environments are trained using a third-party highly-optimized RL library, rl_games, which is also used to train the Isaac Gym Preview Release examples in IsaacGymEnvs. Therefore, the rl_games training configuration yaml files in Isaac Sim are compatible with those from IsaacGymEnvs. However, please add the following lines under config in the training configuration yaml files to ensure RL training runs on the intended device.

device: ${....rl_device} device_name:${....rl_device}


3.9. Summary¶

This tutorial covered the following topics:

1. Differences in quaternion convention and joint ordering between Isaac Sim and Isaac Gym Preview Release

2. Differences in physics parameters and APIs between Isaac Sim and Isaac Gym Preview Release

3. Differences in task and training configuration files between Isaac Sim and Isaac Gym Preview Release

3.9.1. Next Steps¶

Continue on to the next tutorial in our Reinforcement Learning Tutorials series, Getting Started with Cloner, to learn about using the Cloner interface for scene generation for reinforcement learning.