Training Pose Estimation from Simulation in Docker

Object detection and 3D pose estimation play a crucial role in robotics. They are needed in a variety of applications such as navigation, object manipulation, and inspection. The 3D Object Pose Estimation application in the Isaac SDK provides the framework to train pose estimation for any model completely in simulations, and to test and run the inference in simulations, as well as the real world.

To learn more about the inner workings of pose_cnn_decoder in the Isaac SDK, you can consult the documentation:

Using this Docker image, you will be able to train a pose estimation network and use it for inference in an Isaac SDK application.

Using a combination of simulation, Isaac SDK applications, and your own 3D models, we’ll first create an object detection network using Training Object Detection from Simulation in Docker.

Then we’ll use the Isaac SDK’s pose estimation training application, along with a simulation scene, to generate samples for the application to use.

After enough samples have been generated, training stops and a trained network is stored. You have access to the data and models generated by the application.

Finally, we’ll convert this trained model into a format that can be used for inference, and set up a video feed to be processed.

Hardware Requirements

NVIDIA Pascal GPU or newer. GTX 1080Ti and Titan V are the minimum recommended GPUs.

Software Requirements

  • Ubuntu 18.04
  • Docker 19.03 or newer
  • NVIDIA CUDA drivers
  • NVIDIA NGC Account and API key

Run the following script to install the software requirements on your Ubuntu 18.04 desktop. You can copy and paste the following commands to a terminal window:


#Docker CE repository sudo apt-get install apt-transport-https ca-certificates curl gnupg-agent software-properties-common curl -fsSL | sudo apt-key add - sudo add-apt-repository "deb [arch=amd64]$(lsb_release -cs)stable" #NVIDIA CUDA Drivers wget sudo mv /etc/apt/preferences.d/cuda-repository-pin-600 wget sudo dpkg -i cuda-repo-ubuntu1804-10-2-local-10.2.89-440.33.01_1.0-1_amd64.deb sudo apt-key add /var/cuda-repo-10-2-local-10.2.89-440.33.01/ #NVIDIA Docker distribution=$(. /etc/os-release;echo $ID$VERSION_ID) curl -s -L | sudo apt-key add - curl -s -L$distribution/nvidia-docker.list | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/nvidia-docker.list #Install packages sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install docker-ce sudo apt-get -y install cuda sudo apt-get install -y nvidia-container-toolkit #Add yourself to the docker group sudo usermod -a -G docker $(id -nu) echo "All installed"

Once all the software is installed, restart your machine to load the NVIDIA CUDA drivers:


sudo shutdown -r now

Log back in to your Ubuntu desktop environment and open a new terminal window. Use the following command to verify that the installation was successful:


docker run --gpus all nvidia/cuda:10.0-base nvidia-smi

You should see a message indicating some statistics from your GPU and CUDA libraries. The following is an example output from this command.


+-----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | NVIDIA-SMI 440.33.01 Driver Version: 440.33.01 CUDA Version: 10.2 | |-------------------------------+----------------------+----------------------+ | GPU Name Persistence-M| Bus-Id Disp.A | Volatile Uncorr. ECC | | Fan Temp Perf Pwr:Usage/Cap| Memory-Usage | GPU-Util Compute M. | |===============================+======================+======================| | 0 TITAN V On | 00000000:17:00.0 Off | N/A | | 30% 44C P8 26W / 250W | 0MiB / 12066MiB | 0% Default | +-------------------------------+----------------------+----------------------+ | 1 TITAN V On | 00000000:65:00.0 On | N/A | | 30% 44C P8 27W / 250W | 404MiB / 12063MiB | 0% Default | +-------------------------------+----------------------+----------------------+ +-----------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | Processes: GPU Memory | | GPU PID Type Process name Usage | |=============================================================================| | 1 2983 G /usr/lib/xorg/Xorg 256MiB | | 1 3117 G /usr/bin/gnome-shell 145MiB | +-----------------------------------------------------------------------------+

If you have trouble, see the Isaac FAQs or visit the forums.

NGC Docker Registry Setup

The NGC registry hosts Docker images for AI as well as models, datasets, and tools for HPC, AI, and other technologies from NVIDIA and partners. To use this tutorial, you need to have an account and create an API key. This lets you download the isaac-ml-3dpose image, as well as pre-trained models for transfer learning.

Visit NGC to set up a new account. Once you are logged in, visit the API Key creation page and follow the on-screen instructions.

Keep the API key stored safely; it is used several times during setup.

Use the following command with your API key to log in to the NGC Docker registry:


docker login -u '$oauthtoken'

First Run

The image creates many files to provide you with opportunities to customize and to control the behavior of the simulation and training. NVIDIA recommends creating a separate folder to hold your experiments.

Run the following commands to create an isaac-experiments folder and to create the startup script for the container.


#Create a new folder to hold the generated data and trained models. mkdir ~/isaac-experiments cd ~/isaac-experiments #Deploy the startup helper script to your experiments folder. docker run -u $(id -u) -v $PWD:/workspace -s

A new script named is created in your isaac-experiments folder.

Start training

To start the container, run the following command in the same terminal window as above:




Finally, you will see the following message:


Login Succeeded ************************************************************************************************** * Open your browser and go to: * * http://localhost:8888/notebooks/pose_estimation_from_sim.ipynb?token=pose_estimation_from_sim * * * ************************************************************************************************** Press Ctrl-C twice to exit

CONTROL-click on the link to open your browser. This link takes you to a Jupyter notebook that you can run. The Jupyter notebook is the main way you control pose estimation training.

Your Workspace

Note that inside the Docker container, your ~/isaac-experiments folder is mounted as /workspace.

Whenever you see this folder being called from inside docker, it actually refers to a folder in your host machine, and any changes you do to files in this folder is reflected immediately. This is a great way to pass files, executables, and scripts between the container and your machine.

Adding Your Own 3D Models

If you have a 3D model that you want to train on, place it in the isaac-experiments/models folder in FBX format. The file name, without the extension, is used as the label on the dataset. Keep the objects around the size of the Industrial Dolly from the pose_cnn_decoder documentation.

There are some restrictions on the type of models you can add.

  • Transparent textures are not supported in this mode. If you have transparent textures in your models, they may not render or be labeled correctly.
  • Textures should be embedded in the FBX model. If your textures look like they are missing, try regenerating your model with embedded textures. Adding model textures as additional files is not supported.
  • Only one model is supported The pose estimation only works for a single object. You are asked to choose which 3D model to use in the notebook.

If you want to explore developing robotics applications with Isaac, take a look at other tutorials in this documentation.

You can keep using this Docker image as your development container, but you have better performance if you perform a full installation on your host machine.

© Copyright 2018-2020, NVIDIA Corporation. Last updated on Oct 30, 2023.