Alexa SimBot

Amazon Reveals Alexa Prize SimBot Challenge Finalists

Amazon has chosen ten university teams to participate in the first Alexa Prize SimBot Challenge. The teams and their virtual robotic assistants will take part first in the live interactions competition focused on teaching the robots to help people in the real world using tools like teachable AI and multimodal understanding.

SimBot Setup

The SimBot Challenge is designed around using AI with digital robots. The competitors will have to come up with machine-learning models using natural language understanding to craft their AI so that the robots can complete a task and interact with humans well enough to do so. The AI should be able to learn from humans and from sensory input to navigate and understand its virtual space, manipulate objects and complete its assigned tasks in both virtual and real space. Customers will have a chance to interact with the bots by playing a game on Echo Show devices, using the bot to complete tasks and solve challenges in a virtual environment. The winners will score $500,000, with $100,000 and $50,000 given to the second and third-place teams.

Following the live interactions phase, the ten teams will compete in the public benchmark phase, which will be open to both the teams and individuals interested in AI, a first for the Alexa Prize. The ten teams will then be ranked based on performance during the public benchmark phase. Even teams not currently sponsored for the SimBot challenge can receive Amazon sponsorship to build a SimBot to compete. The teams chosen to compete will get a grant and free devices and AWS services and support. As announced when the competition opened, the SimBot challenge is happening in tandem with the public release of the TEACh dataset. TEACh includes more than 3,000 conversations between simulated users and robots discussing methods for managing household tasks. In the dialogs, the human breaks down the separate steps of the job for the robot, paired with simulated visual data.

“Next-generation assistants won’t just be sitting in your kitchen or living room and responding to your questions or requests. They will be ambient and mobile, helping customers accomplish tasks in the real world through better-situated intelligence,” Alexa AI senior principal scientist Dilek Hakkani-Tür explained when the SimBot competition began accepting applicants. “The goal of the SimBot Challenge is to advance the science so that future generations of virtual assistants are capable of learning continuously and are imbued with a more generalized intelligence.”

The ten university teams and their projects are:

Symbiote Carnegie Mellon University
GauchoAI University of California, Santa Barbara
KingFisher University of Illinois
KnowledgeBot Virginia Tech
SalsaBot Ohio State University
SEAGULL University of Michigan
SlugJARVIS University of California, Santa Cruz
ScottyBot Carnegie Mellon University
Team EMMA Heriot-Watt University
UMD-PRG University of Maryland


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